HRW Urges Investigation Into Death of Palestinian Prisoner

Date: Mon, 23 Jun 97 22:21:53

Human Rights Watch/Middle East 1522 K Street, NW Suite 910 Washington, DC 20005 Telephone: (202) 371-6592 Facsimile: (202) 371-0124 E-mail: hrwdc@hrw.org. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 19, 1997 For more information: Eric Goldstein, Acting Executive Director, Human Rights Watch/Middle East 202-371-6592 ext. 115 HRW Urges Investigation Into Violent Death of Palestinian Prisoner at Israeli Hospital In an open letter sent today to Israeli Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Human Rights Watch urged a "full, impartial and transparent investigation" into the May 21 death of prisoner Khaled Abu Daiyeh while in Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. Minutes before his death, Abu Daiyeh, a resident of Beit Safafa near Jerusalem, sustained grievous bodily injuries at the hands of security guards who, according to a hospital official, were attempting to subdue Abu Daiyeh after he became unruly. Human Rights Watch is concerned that excessive force may have caused or contributed to Abu Daiyeh's death, and urged that the investigation report be made public. A copy of the letter is attached. *** Human Rights Watch/Middle East Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among the signatories of the Helsinki accords. It is supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly. Kenneth Roth is the executive director and Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of the board. Its Middle East division was established in 1989 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Eric Goldstein is the acting executive director. Web Site Address: http://www.hrw.org Gopher Address: gopher://gopher.humanrights.org:5000/11/int/hrw Listserv address: To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail message to majordomo@igc.apc.org with "subscribe hrw-news" in the body of the message (leave the subject line blank). ***************************************************************** Human Rights Watch/Middle East 1522 K Street, NW Suite 910 Washington, DC 20005 Telephone: (202) 371-6592 Facsimile: (202) 371-0124 E-mail: hrwdc@hrw.org. June 19, 1997 Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi Minister of Justice P.O. Box 1087 29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem 91010 Dear Minister Hanegbi: We are writing to you to express our concern about the case of Khaled Abu Daiyeh, who died at Shaare Tzedek hospital after being subjected to considerable physical force by security officers on May 21. We understand that Mr. Abu Daiyeh, a resident of Beit Safafa in his thirties, was arrested in Jerusalem around May 14, allegedly for attempting to grab a border guard's weapon. During his interrogation at the Russian Compound jail in Jerusalem, he was reportedly moved to Kfar Shaul psychiatric facility and from there was transferred on May 20 to Shaare Tzedek Hospital. In an article in Haaretz daily on June 3, the director of the hospital, Yonatan Halevi, claimed that hospital security guards and police used force to restrain Mr. Abu Daiyeh in response to his becoming violent. He died a few minutes later. An autopsy conducted by the Israeli and Palestinian Authority's forensic pathologists noted the severe injuries sustained by Mr Abu Daiyeh. He had reportedly sustained several fractures and other injuries caused by a blunt instrument, both to his rib cage and skull. PA pathologist Jalal Jabri reportedly noted that the "injuries caused tremendous pain, which caused neurological disorder and death." Mr. Abu Daiyeh's severe injuries and death raise troubling questions about whether the force used against him was excessive. We understand that the Ministry of Justice began an investigation into the incident soon after it occurred. Meanwhile, Shaare Tzedek hospital administrators have reportedly barred human rights organizations, including the Israeli organization B'tselem, from interviewing hospital employees or other witnesses to the incident. As an organization that monitors and promotes human rights around the world, Human Rights Watch urges a full and impartial investigation into the events leading to Mr Abu Daiyeh's death, including his treatment in detention from the moment of his arrest. Such an investigation should be made publicly available and should identify the cause of death and whether there is evidence that illegal actions, including the use of restraining force that was excessive, contributed to the death. If that is the case, those responsible should be brought to justice. We shall continue to monitor the case and would be grateful for prompt information concerning the status and outcome of any investigations being conducted. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely yours, /s/ Eric Goldstein Acting Executive Director Human Rights Watch/Middle East cc: Minister of Interior Eli Suissa Minister of Health Joshua Matza Ambassador Eliahu Ben Elissar, Washington, D.C.