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Palestinian Authority: Death penalty/Legal Concern

, Index number: MDE 21/008/2002

On 5 June, Faisal Ahmed Suleiman Abu Teilakh and Sa'id al-Barrawi Mohammed al-Najjar were sentenced to death by firing squad, by the State Security Court in Gaza, after a trial which only lasted three hours. The two were convicted of the rape and murder of a seven year old girl, Islam Mahmoud al-Khatib.

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 21/008/2002
UA 169/02 Death penalty/Legal Concern 6 June 2002
PALESTINIAN Faisal Ahmed Suleiman Abu Teilakh (m) aged 26
AUTHORITYSa’id al-Barrawi Mohammed al-Najjar (m) aged 29
On 5 June, Faisal Ahmed Suleiman Abu Teilakh and Sa’id al-Barrawi Mohammed
al-Najjar were sentenced to death by firing squad, by the State Security Court
in Gaza, after a trial which only lasted three hours. The two were convicted
of the rape and murder of a seven year old girl, Islam Mahmoud al-Khatib.
The case was considered by the State Security Court, even though the crimes
committed should fall under the authority of the civil judiciary. Under
Palestinian law, the Attorney General is authorized to investigate cases and
prosecute perpetrators. However, the Palestinian Authority bypassed the
Attorney General and civil courts by presenting the case to the State Security
Court three days after the two suspects were arrested. This action undermines
both the independence of the civil judiciary and the rule of law. It also
amounts to a failure to enforce the Judicial Authority Law, which was ratified
by President Yasser ‘Arafat less than a month ago.
The trial failed to meet minimum international standards for fair trial. The
two suspects were convicted in three hours and the fact that one of the defendants
is mentally handicapped was not raised during the hearing.
Amnesty International strongly condemns the rape and murder of a child, and
recognizes the need to bring the perpetrators of crime to justice, but this
must be done in proceedings which meet international standards for fair trial.
The organization is opposed to the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate
form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a violation of the right
to life.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International has previously condemned trials by the State Security
Court as being grossly unfair. Trials are often summary, taking place before
military judges, and there is no right of appeal. Sentences are subject only
to ratification by President Arafat and may be carried out within hours or
days of the trial.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
English, Arabic or your own language:
- expressing deep sympathy for the family and friends of Islam Mahmoud al-Khatib
and explaining that you are not seeking to excuse the manner of her death;
- calling on President Arafat not to ratify the death sentences passed on the
two men named above and expressing unconditional opposition to the death
penalty;
- expressing concern that this and other trials before the State Security Court
are grossly unfair, failing to meet even minimum international standards for
fair trial;
- calling for a retrial to take place before an ordinary criminal court in
accordance with international standards for fair trial and without recourse
to the death penalty;
- urging that no more executions be carried out and that the death penalty
be abolished.
APPEALS TO:
2
President Yasser Arafat
The President’s Office, Gaza
Palestinian Authority
Fax:+ 972 8 2 822 159 (it may be difficult to get through, please keep trying)
Salutation: Dear President Arafat
Freih Abu Middein
Minister of Justice
P O Box 1021
Gaza
Palestinian Authority
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Gaza, Palestinian Authority
Fax: + 972 8 286 7109
Salutation:Dear Minister
and to diplomatic representatives of the Palestinian Authority accredited to
your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 18 July 2002.

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