Date: 24 May 2009
Time: 11:25 GMT
Military Court in Gaza Sentences 3 Persons to Death; PCHR Urges President not to Ratify Sentence
On Sunday, 24 May 2009, the Permanent Military Court in Gaza, headed by Judge Mohammed Noufal, sentenced 3 persons to death by firing squad after convicting them of kidnapping, terrorist acts and premeditated killing.
The court charged the three defendants with: 1) Kidnapping in violation of articles 256, 254 and 23 of the Palestinian Penal Law (74) of 1936; 2) Terrorist acts in violation of articles 175e, 174 and 82 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 of the Palestine Liberation Organization; and 3) Premeditated killing in violation of articles 378/a, 379 and 82 of the Revolutionary Code.
The court sentenced to death by firing squad the following persons:
1) Shadi Khader Deeb, 30, from Beit Lahi, a member of the Palestinian National Security Forces who has been detained since 10 October 2007;
2) Shadi ‘Abdul Karim al-Madhoun, from Beit Lahia, fugitive from justice; and
3) Ra’ed Sabri al-Maqqoussi, 29, from Jabalya refugee camp, who had been detained since 13 March 2008, but fled from detention on 28 December 2008.
The sentence, which is appealable, was issued against one of the defendants in presence and against the two other ones in absentia.
The military prosecution charged the three defendants with the killing of two journalists, Mohammed Matar Abdu and Suleiman Abdul Rahim al-Ashi, on 13 May 2009, near Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the west of Gaza City, and with other charges.
PCHR notes that the 1979 Revolutionary Penal Code of the PLO is unconstitutional within the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as it has not been presented to, nor approved by, the legislature. PCHR has repeatedly called for its abolition as it violates international fair trial standards and does not include fair and independent mechanisms of appeal.
PCHR is extremely concerned over the continued application of the death penalty in the PNA controlled areas, and therefore:
1. Calls upon the PNA to announce an immediate moratorium on the use of this penalty, which violates international human rights standards and instruments, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the UN Convention against Torture (1984).
2. Calls upon Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas not to ratify these cruel and inhumane sentences, and to prevent its implementation.
3. Reiterates that abolishing the death penalty does not imply leniency towards dangerous criminals, who must be subjected to punishment that acts as a deterrent but also maintains human dignity.
4. Calls upon the PNA to stop applying the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979 of Palestine Liberation Organization as it is unconstitutional.
5. Calls upon the PNA to review all legislation relative to the death penalty – particularly Law No. 74 (1936) that remains in effect in the Gaza Strip, and the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 (1960) that remains in effect in the West Bank – and to enact a unified penal code that conforms to the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty.