Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian Police Probed after Death of Beaten Detainee

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Palestinian Police Probed after Death of Beaten Detainee

Article excerpt

DEEPLY embarrassed by the torture and consequent death of a prisoner just a few weeks after they took power, Palestinian officials in Gaza are promising an urgent and open investigation into the affair. "We are not afraid to give all the information. We have nothing to hide," the new Palestinian Justice Minister, Freih Abu Middein, said yesterday. "All the facts will be released as soon as possible," he pledged.

Mr. Abu Middein, sworn in last Tuesday as a member of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was acting to head off an outcry, both in Gaza and abroad, following the death in detention of Farid Jarbou, a 28-year-old resident of Rafah refugee camp.

An official Palestinian Justice Ministry statement released over the weekend acknowledged that Jarbou died as a result of "excessive violence" during interrogation. It said his three interrogators had been detained and were being investigated.

Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization, said Jarbou's treatment was reminiscent of the way Israeli soldiers dealt with Palestinian suspects during the occupation. "At this difficult stage, we must not allow such incidents to pass," Al-Haq said in a letter to Abu Middein.

Jarbou was suspected of being a collaborator with Israel, according to Gaza security sources, requesting anonymity. He was held for 10 days in Gaza Central Prison, without being charged and without access to a lawyer. He was severely beaten last Monday night by his interrogators, and died within minutes, the sources added.

The incident was reminiscent of countless killings during the intifadah (uprising), when Palestinian militants kidnapped suspected collaborators, interrogated them, and then executed them. This time, however, the militants were wearing police uniforms.

The decision to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding Jarbou's detention and death was endorsed by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, according to sources familiar with the affair. …

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