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The Military Court Sentences Four Persons to Death in Gaza<br>Al Mezan Calls for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Emphasizes that the Sentence Violates Fair Trial Standards

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9 April 2009 |Reference 37/2009

On 7 April 2009, the Special Military Court for Public Security and the Police in the Gaza Strip sentenced four Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in absentia to death by firing squad after convicting them of the charge of “killing and forming an 'evil society'.
”     According to information received by Al Mezan, the court sentenced the following accused persons to death by firing squad on Tuesday 7 April 2009: Hani Ibrahim Abdullah Zeideya; Bassam Kamal Mustafa Rahmi; Na’el Salaah Saaleh Juha; and Mohammed Salem Hussein al-Mathloum.
They were convicted of the following charges, as presented to the court, on 9 October 2008:     The formation of an ‘evil society’ in violation of Article 185/A of the Revolutionary Penal Code.
This Article provides that any two or more persons who form an association or contract with intent to commit crimes against people or property would be punished with temporary hard labor for not less than seven years if the intention of the criminals was to attack the life of others.
The charge of willful killing and/or participation in willful killing with premeditation violates article 378/A that states: Willful killing is punishable by death if it is committed a): willfully with premeditation.
Added to it is Article 379 which reads Premeditation is malicious intention designed prior to the action to commit a crime or a felony the purpose of which is inflicting harm or killing a specific person or any other non-specified person he/she located or came into accidently, even if this intention was conditioned by the occurrence of a specific matter or by any other condition.
The charge also invokes Article 88, which criminalizes any person who a) provides instructions for committing the crime, even if such instructions do not assist the commitment of the crime;  b) who strengthens the will of the perpetrator using any means; c) who, for any material or moral interest, presented an offer to the perpetrator to commit the crime; d) who assisted the perpetrator to carry out the acts that laid the ground for the crime, rendered it easier to commit, or brought about its perpetration.
Moreover, it invoked Article 82 that provides that a) every complicit in the crime is subject to punishment as specified in the law; the punishment of any person who organizes the participation in the crime, or managed the works of those who carried it out, shall be increased according to the terms provided in Article 120 in the same law.
(1) The sentence was issued publicly by consensus against all the accused and is subject to ratification and appeal according to its type according to the law.
The charge of killing is connected to the killing of Hussein Ahmed Abu ‘Ajwa from At-Tuffah area on 5 July 2006.
  Al Mezan Center for Human Rights views the sentencing to death of the abovementioned people with concern and stresses that: The Revolutionary Penal Code of the Palestine Liberation Organization is not legally constituted by the Palestinian National Authority; therefore it is not part of its legal regime.
  That the death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life, which is a basic and fundamental human right that cannot be derogated from even at times of emergency.
  That the death penalty is not an effective deterrent in comparison to other penalties, and it is a cruel and inhumane punishment that does not realize criminal or humanitarian principles aimed at rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
The provisions of the Revolutionary Penal Code violate fair trial standards especially the right to a trial in front of a competent, impartial and independent court constituted by law in which all guarantees are made to enable accused to use all possible means of self-defense   Accordingly, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights calls on President Mahmoud Abbas to refrain from ratifying this sentence.
Further, Al Mezan calls on the Palestinian National Authority to reconsider Palestinian legislation, and to pass a unified Penal Law that does not include the death penalty and includes procedures which guarantee fair trial standards in front of the Palestinian judiciary.
  (1) Please note that this is an unofficial translation of articles of the Revolutionary Penal Code   Ends