Human rights
organizations and the Palestinian Non Governmental Organisations’ Network are
highly concerned over the recent developments in the trial of the murder of
Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni. Yesterday, on 19 February
2013, the Military High Court ordered the reduction in the sentence of

The Permanent
Military Court (PMC) in Gaza began the proceedings of Vittorio Arrigoni’s
murder case on 11 August 2010. In its judgment on 17 September 2012, the PMC
convicted the first defendant (M.S.) and the second defendant (T.H.) on the
charges of premeditated killing and kidnapping for the purpose of killing. They
were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour or life imprisonment
with hard labour, while stating that the more sever punishment would apply. The
PMS also sentenced the third defendant (K.E.) to 10 years imprisonment with
hard labour, after convicting him of kidnapping for the purpose of killing. The
fourth defendant (A.G.) was convicted for harbouring fugitives and was
sentenced to one year imprisonment.

However, in its
latest decision on 19 February 2013, the court granted the convicts’ appeal by
reducing the first and the second defendants’ sentence from life imprisonment
with hard labour to 15 years imprisonment. The third defendant’s date for
appeal hearing is scheduled on 24 February 2013.

Arrigoni, was killed, after having been kidnapped in the evening of 14 April
2011, by a group that calls itself the “Al-Hammam Mohammed Bin Maslama Group.” The
Palestinian police found his body 15 April 2011 in a house in the ‘Amer housing
project, west of Jabalya, located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian
Center for Human Rights (PCHR) had attended all hearings for the case since the
court began the proceedings on 11 August 2011, in its capacity as the legal
representative of the Arrigoni family. PCHR officially demanded the court’s
panel, in writing, to abstain from applying the death penalty to the defendants
if they were convicted, based on its position which rejects the death penalty
and in response to the Arrigoni family’s wish expressed in a letter dated 16
December 2011. PCHR notes that the court’s ruling was based on firm beliefs and
expressed its content towards the sentence issued by the court.

In the light of
the Military High Court’s decision to reduce the convicts’ sentences, it is
unclear whether there were developments or changes in the circumstances of the investigation
that required adjusting the charges and made the court’s panel change its

In light of
these developments, human rights organisations and the Palestinian
Non-Governmental Organisations’ Network:

1. Demand the High
Military Court to publish the reasoning of its decision to reduce the sentence
as soon as possible, in order to clarify its motive despite the seriousness of
the crime.

2. Assert that
the demand to abstain from applying the death penalty to the defendants is based
on their position which rejects the death penalty and in compliance with the
Arrigoni family’s wish; however, it does not mean that tolerance or waiver of
the private or public right, when dealing with perpetrators of dangerous and
serious crimes like in this case.


Palestinian Center for Human Rights

Center for Human Rights

Association for Human Rights

Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations’ Network