Released @ 10.00 hours GMT 12th July 1997

Palestinian High Court of Justice gives the Preventative Security eight days within which to answer the petition filed by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights with regard to the illegal circumstances of his arrest

Dr. Fathi Soboh was arrested at his home in Al-Tufah, on the outskirts of Gaza City, at 18.00 hours local time on 2nd July 1997 by the Palestinian Preventative Security. They presented him with a warrant for his arrest but did not give the grounds for his arrest.

Dr. Soboh is a lecturer at Al-Azhar University in the Education Department in Gaza City. He has a PhD and is a researcher. He is very involved in community activities and is the head of a Palestinian non-governmental organisation. Dr. Soboh was arrested by the Israeli occupation authorities on several occasions and was subjected to interrogation for periods from ten days to one month. He has also served a two year prison sentence during the direct occupation. He was formerly affiliated with Fateh.

The Preventative Security have claimed that Mr. Soboh was arrested for “security reasons”. However, according to information given by his wife, Fatima Soboh, on 21st June, Dr. Soboh set an examination for his students in which he asked two questions, one about corruption in the Palestinian National Authority, and one about corruption at Al-Azhar University. He was subsequently summoned by the Dean of the University, Dr. Riad Al-Khodari, where after discussing the questions, he was informed that there would be an investigation by the University.

The day following his arrest the Palestinian Centre contacted the Ministry of Justice, and the Acting Attorney General promised to act seriously on this case. Raji Sourani, on behalf of the Centre, as Dr. Soboh’s legal representative subsequently wrote to the Acting Attorney-General requesting an inquiry with regard to the following specific points:

i. the reason for the arrest and exact charges against Dr. Soboh;

ii. the justification for him not being brought before a judge within 48 hours of his arrest as is required by Palestinian Law;

iii. the lack of respect for due process;

iv. asking for permission for his lawyer to visit him in prison.

The Palestinian Centre filed a petition before the High Court of Justice regarding the illegality of the arrest. The Court today gave the Preventative Security eight days within which to respond to the above questions.