PCHR Calls for Investigation into Death Circumstances of Detainee in Ansar Military Prison
Date: 17 October 2022
Time: 11:15 GMT
On Sunday, 16 October 2022, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza announced death of a detainee while receiving treatment at al-Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza City after being referred to there for feeling sick. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its concern over the recurrence of such cases at the Palestinian detention centers and demands the Public Prosecution investigate the circumstances of his death, detention, and treatment of his medical condition.
The Ministry of Interior said in an official statement that detainee (N. A.) (52), from Deir Al-Balah in the Central Gaza Strip, died on Sunday morning and they decided to open an investigation into the death circumstances. The statement added that the detainee had been referred to al-Shifa Hospital on Friday at dawn after feeling sick, and according to the medical report, the cause of death was complications of a heart attack.
The statement also said that the deceased was a retired military officer at the National Security in Gaza and had been detained by the Military Police in Gaza since 07 September on grounds of “helping and harboring a fugitive.”
Based on information collected by PCHR’s staff, at approximately 03:15 on Friday, 14 October 2022, a detainee namely Nasser Soliman Salem Abu ‘Obaid (52) at Ansar Military Prison in Gaza, complained of chest pains and told the prison service. Accordingly, he was referred to al-Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza City, where he was pronounced dead at around 05:30 on Sunday morning due to a severe heart attack.
Rajeh Soliman Salem Abu ‘Obaid (48), the late detainee’s brother, told PCHR’s fieldworker that his brother, Nasser, had not suffered any diseases before his detention and that he surrendered to the anti-narcotic police in Deir Al-Balah upon a summons he received on 03 September 2022. Afterwards, he was referred to the anti-narcotic police headquarter in al-Jawazat Police Complex in Gaza, and 7 days later, he was taken to the Military Police Headquarters at Ansar in Gaza City.
Abu ‘Obaid added that on 18 September 2022 he could visit his brother with a lawyer in the detention center at the Military Police (Ansar Prison), where my brother, Nasser, told me and the lawyer that he was tortured at the Anti-Narcotics Center in Gaza, where he was shackled and subjected to “shabeh”, torture based on being forced into a painful position.
Abu ‘Obaid added that on Thursday evening, 13 October 2022, he received a phone call from his brother Nasser telling him he was feeling sick and having breath difficulty.
Abu ‘Obeid added that at about 05:00 on Friday 14 October 2022, he received a call from doctors at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza informing him that his brother Nasser was admitted to the vascular department at the Hospital. Thus, he headed to the hospital and while talking to his brother, he told him that he had been suffering from chest pains for about 10 days, during which he was severely coughing and continuously asked the warden to take him to the hospital. However, his request was denied, and he was only given painkillers.
Abu ‘Obeid also said that the next day Nasser arrived at al-Shifa Hospital, his condition got worse and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. At around 05:30 on Sunday, 16 October 2022, the doctors announced his death, and he was referred to the forensic medicine, whose examination revealed that the cause of death was a severe heart attack. We received his body at around 11:00 and noticed traces of handcuffs on his hands.
It is noteworthy that the family refused an autopsy but demanded a serious investigation committee to be formed with the family’s participation to identify the death circumstances.
PCHR emphasizes that the General Directorate of the Rehabilitation and Reform Centers, the Ministry of Interior and Public Prosecution are all fully responsible for the life of the detainees and for occurrence of such incidents regardless of the reasons, as codified in Article (7) of the Rehabilitation and Reform Centers Law no. 6/1998, which provides that “… inmates in any prison remain under the legal guardianship of the prison director….” Moreover, PA has international obligations under the first rule of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules”, which stipulates that “…. the safety and security of prisoners…. shall be ensured at all times.”
Accordingly, PCHR calls upon the Public Prosecution to open an investigation into the death circumstances, including the allegations of him being subjected to torture during the first days of his arrest, the mechanisms taken to treat his complains about his medical condition, and verifying that the healthcare measures provided to him were adequate, and publish the investigation results to the public and take all the necessary legal proceedings.