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Special Report on Death Sentences Entered by Gaza Courts

June 2010

Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and established the High Justice Council, Gaza courts have entered 23 death sentences against convicted persons. Of these, 20 sentences were issued by military courts, two by the Court of First Instance, and one by the Court of Cassation. In the latter, the Court of Cassation endorsed a death sentence against four persons convicted of raping and killing a 10-year-old girl on 25 September 2003.

Death sentences were entered in accordance with the unconstitutional 1979 Revolutionary Penal Law of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as well as the 1936 Palestinian Penal Law No. (74), the 2001 Palestinian Penal Procedure Law No. (3), and the 2008 Law on Military Justice No. (4), which was promulgated by the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza.

Charges against persons sentenced to capital punishment were as follows:

1. Wilful, premeditated murder (including abduction and complicity and taking part in murder); and
2. Treason and collaboration with the enemy (espionage).

In relation to criminal cases and espionage, judicial panels which entered all death sentences consisted of three judges. These included 15 sentences in criminal cases on charges of wilful murder. Among the convicts were civilian persons and military personnel of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

Convicts sentenced to death included a person who had been detained by the PNA security agencies. Others fled from prisons after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Security bodies of the Gaza deposed government arrested a number of convicts under various charges. In respect of detention, fair trial and investigation procedures, most arrests were in violation of the law.

On 25 May 2009, the Gaza deposed government announced the establishment of an advisory committee, comprising judges and legal advisors, to examine the execution of death sentences issued by Gaza courts. The committee replaced the PNA President, who is entitled to approve the implementation of capital punishment sentences. According to Taher an Nunu, then Gaza deposed government’s spokesman, President Abbas’ term had expired.

Death sentences executed by the Ministry of Interior of the Gaza deposed government without approval by the PNA President:

  • In the morning of Thursday, 15 April 2010, dead bodies of two persons who had been convicted to death by Gaza military courts were transported to the Ash Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza city. Both were killed by shooting. These were:
    1. Nasser Salameh Abu Freih, a 33-year-old resident of Jabalya town in the Northern Gaza governorate; and
    2. Mohammed Ibrahim Isma’il as Sabe’, a 36-year-old resident of Rafah city in southern Gaza Strip.

 

It should be noted that Abu Freih had been sentenced to death by shooting by the Permanent Military Court in Gaza on 22 February 2009 on charges of treason and complicity in murder. Abu Freih was a first sergeant in the Palestinian Civil Police force.
Pursuant to the charged counts of treason and involvement in wilful killing under Article 91(B) of the 2008 Law on Military Justice No. (4), As Sabe’ was sentenced to death by hanging.. The Gaza Permanent Military Court entered the said sentence.

The Ministry of Interior of the Gaza deposed government allowed families of the convicted persons to visit them at 12:30 am the night the death sentences were to be implemented. The Ministry claimed that it would relocate the convicts to another prison, but it never informed their families of its intention to execute the death sentences. In the morning of the same day, the Ministry of Interior telephoned the families and reported that they receive the corpses of their relatives from the Ash Shifa’ Hospital. The Ministry of Interior killed both civilians by shooting.

On 23 March 2010, Mr. Fat’hi Hammad, Minister of Interior at the Gaza deposed government, stated on the Sawt al Quds radio station that the Gaza government had decided to execute sentences of capital punishment against convicts. Mr. Mohammed ‘Abed, Attorney General, also announced on the Ministry of Interior’s website that the Public Prosecution had already started to approve death sentences against convicted persons in the Gaza Strip.

It is worth noting that Police officers prevented journalists and human rights organisations from reaching the Ash Shifa’ Hospital. Police officers assaulted a number of journalists and human rights activists as well as confiscated their papers and cameras.

  • In the morning of Tuesday, 18 May 2010, the Gaza deposed government executed death sentences against three citizens despite the fact that the PNA President did not approve the execution. Pursuant to the 2001 Law of Penal Procedure No. (3), endorsement of capital punishment sentences is a prerogative right of the PNA President. Unapproved implementation violates the law.

Based on field investigations, the Ministry of Interior of the Gaza deposed government hanged the three convicted citizens, who were all residents of Gaza city:

    1. Matar Harb ash Shobaki, 35 years old, was sentenced to death on 15 March 1996 by the Gaza court on charges of taking part in murdering Suheil as Sayyed;
    2. Rami Mohammed Sa’id Juha, 25 years old , was sentenced to death on 13 April 2004 by a civil court on charges of taking part in raping and murdering Mayyadah Khalil Abu Lamtha, a 10-year-old girl, on 25 September 2003; and
    3. ‘Amer Saber Hussein Jundiyyah, a 33-year-old Palestinian National Security officer, was sentenced to death by the Gaza Permanent Military Court on 10 March 2010 on charges of murdering Fawzi Jamil ‘Ajjour, 40-year-old money changer of western Gaza city on 4 October 2008.

According to its website, the Ministry of Interior executed death sentences against these three criminal convicts who had been charged with wilful murder. It further mentions that after all proceeding of objection had been in place and convicts were granted full rights to defend themselves the sentences were ready to be carried out. In the presence of the persons prescribed by law, the Ministry of Interior implemented all applicable legal procedures in executing the said sentences.

The corpses of the three convicts were transferred to the Ash Shifa’ Hospital. Marks of bullets were visible on their chests and heads.

Note: After the As Saraya Prison was shelled by the Israeli forces on 28 December 2008, a number of convicts were killed by Gaza security agencies. Other persons were killed by masked individuals backed up by security bodies. The total number of people killed amounts to 20 persons, including citizens sentenced to death before Hamas’ takeover.

Al-Haq Field Researcher, Gaza.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Special Report on Death Sentences
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: June 2010
  • Name: Name not withheld
More in this category: Affidavit No. 5446/2010 »
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