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Press Release

 

 

PCHR condemns the murder at the State Security Court in Jenin; demands upholding of the Rule of Law

 

 

Ref: 13/2002

Date: 6 February 2002

 

 

PCHR condemns the murder of three Palestinians by Palestinian gunmen who broke into a session of the State Security Court in Jenin yesterday. The three had earlier been convicted by the court for the killing of another Palestinian. PCHR calls upon the PNA to investigate the incident, bring those responsible for the murders to justice and to take necessary measures against policemen responsible for the safety of the court.

 

According to information PCHR received from LAW – the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, at approximately 09:00 on Tuesday, 5 February 2002, the State Security Court held was holding a session to consider the murder of Ussama ‘Omar Kumail, 31, from Qabatya in Jenin on Friday, 1 February. The court sentenced the three defendants, Mahmoud Mohammed Huneiti, 39, Khaled Rajeh Nasser, 21, and Jihad Mohammed Abu Khamira, 18, to prison terms after they were convicted of the murder. All three suspects had confessed to the killing of Kumail, an officer of the Preventive Security Service and an activist of the first Intifada, in retaliation for his involvement in the murders of two brothers of Mahmoud Huneiti.

 

At approximately 11:30, after the court had handed down sentences to the three, several gunmen broke into the session and shot dead the three suspects while in the bathroom. According to eyewitnesses, policemen who were guarding the court did not make any efforts to stop the gunmen.

 

PCHR condemns the murders and:

  1. Calls for a full and proper investigation into the incident and for the prosecution of those found to be responsible.

  2. Calls for an investigation into the alleged failure of policemen guarding the court to stop the attackers and to take necessary measures against those found to be responsible for this failure.

  3. Demands the Rule of Law be upheld. Such unlawful actions, and the failure to adhere to judicial procedures, which conform to international standards, in bringing the perpetrators of crimes to justice, can only have disastrous consequences for national security, stability and for the rule of law.

  4. Reiterates its previous statements regarding the deficiency of the Palestinian judicial system, especially regarding the operation of State Security Courts which routinely fail to reach even the minimum international standards on fair trials and which undermine the authority and independence of the Palestinian judiciary.