Palestinian High Court demands explanation

Ahmad Sa’adat

This morning, the Palestinian High Court of Justice gave the Palestinian General Intelligence Service eight days to explain reasons for the detention of Ahmad Sa’adat, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

This decision came in response to a request submitted by several Palestinian lawyers, including Raji Sourani and Iyad ‘Alami of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza and ‘Abdul Rahman Abu al-Nasser, Head of the Palestinian Bar Association, Younis al-Jaru and Rebhi Qatamesh.

Besides this morning’s European-brokered and facilitated deportation of Palestinians, one must also look at the US-brokered deal on the detention and in fact hostage taking of Ahmad Sa’adat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Under the deal to lift the siege on the headquarters, or compound, of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, four Palestinians suspected of the assassination of Israel’s extremist Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’ve last October, Hamdi Qar’an, Bassel al-Asmar, Majdi al-Rimawi and ‘Aahed Abu Ghalma, together with Fuad Shobaki, and Ahmad Sa’adat were transferred by US and British security officers to a prison in Jericho and guarded there by US and British wardens.

Under the deal, Israeli forces withdrew last week from their positions around the compound in Ramallah, which they had occupied for nearly a month. The four men accused of the assassination of Ze’evi were tried and sentenced in the besieged compound. Judges and lawyers were chosen from those besieged in the building. The sentences were issued after short proceedings. Hamdi Qar’an was convicted of firing at Ze’evi and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Bassel al-Asmar was convicted of assisting in the killing and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Majdi al-Rimawi was convicted of planning the killing and sentenced to 8 years in prison. Finally, ‘Aahed Abu Ghalma was sentenced to one year in prison.

This court did not even reach the minimum international standards for a fair trial. Israel and the United States make efforts to achieve this goal in an attempt to legitimize human rights violations, including war crimes, perpetrated by the Israeli belligerent occupation forces against the Palestinian people, neglecting all international instruments and standards.

Ahmad Sa’adat has been detained without any charge, has not been interrogated and has not appeared before a judicial body that could consider his detention. Sa’adat was arrested on 15 January 2002. He was detained in the Muqata’a prison in Ramallah. On 1 May 2002 he was transferred to the Muqata’a prison in Jericho.

However, he has still not been released. Unlawful apprehension of a suspect by state agents, including US and British security agents acting in the territory of another state is not a bar to the excercise of jurisdiction. Such apprehension would, of course, constitute a breach of international law and the norm of non-intervention. Moreover, the taking of hostage is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.