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Israel Tortures & Imprisons Canadian Citizen

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    Tortured Into Making A Confession, Canadian Palestinian Sentenced To Four Years Imprisonment by Israeli Military Court By Yahya Abdul Rahman Montreal - Nov
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2004
      Tortured Into Making A Confession, Canadian Palestinian Sentenced To
      Four Years Imprisonment by Israeli Military Court

      By Yahya Abdul Rahman

      Montreal - Nov 25, 2004 (MMN) - In October 2003, 23 year old Jamal
      Akkal, a Palestinian-Canadian attending the University of Windsor,
      traveled to the Gaza strip to meet with his fiancée in the community
      Nusseriat, where he himself has been born. He moved to Canada in 1999
      and since then obtained his Canadian citizenship

      More than 12 months after his arrival in Gaza - despite the fact that
      Israel has no legal jurisdiction there - on November 23, 2004 Akkal
      formally sentenced by an Israeli military court to four years
      imprisonment and issued a fine of $500 (CDN) for being a Hamas
      and planning attacks on Jewish and Israel targets in North America.
      Akkal had stayed for one month in Gaza before he began his long trip
      back to Canada. He arrived at Rafah on Nov 1, 2003 to go through the
      border to Egypt but was picked up by Israel's intelligence agency,
      Shin Bet. His Canadian passport was not helpful at all.

      During his month long visit Akkal reportedly fired 8 rounds from a
      rifle into the air, which is a common practice in Palestinian
      society, especially during times of celebration. A Palestinian
      collaborator for Shin Bet, who is active in the Nusseirat refugee
      camp, witnessed the incident. Prominent Hamas activist Ahmed Wahabi
      was also reportedly present at the time Akkal fired the rifle. The
      collaborator relayed the incident to Shin Bet, who then arranged to
      have Akkal arrested as he attempted to leave Gaza.

      Over the next month Israeli intelligence interrogated Akkal and
      subjected him to beatings, sleep deprivation and psychological
      torture and eventually was able to extract a range of 'confessions'
      on which they built their case against him. He was forced to sign a
      confession in Hebrew, a language that he does not understand.
      Although interrogation by torture is absolutely prohibited by
      Israeli and international law, despite this fact and according to
      reports from numerous Human Rights organizations, Israeli security
      forces breach this prohibition and torture Palestinians during
      interrogation on a routine basis. In its 2003 report, Amnesty
      International took a close look at Israel over the span of just one
      year and wrote: "The IDF arrested thousands of Palestinians,
      including hundreds of minors, throughout the Occupied Territories.
      Most were released without charge and many without having been
      questioned. Ill-treatment was widespread during arrest and
      interrogation, and there were numerous reports of torture in
      detention, including beatings, being handcuffed and tied in
      uncomfortable positions for prolonged periods, threats to the
      detainee and their relatives, and sleep deprivation. At least one
      detainee died in custody after he was beaten."

      On December 14, 2004 the formal charge against Akkal was put forward
      by Lieutenant-Colonel David Benjamin, Israel's top military
      prosecutor in the Gaza Strip, who explained the alleged plot to
      reporters as follows as quoted in the Dec 16th edition of the Globe
      and Mail: "The plan was, as we understand from his statement, to
      find a person who looked Jewish by the skullcap or some other
      defining feature...in Canada,…And they said, 'You know, make sure
      it's a Jew, and then go and attach a bomb to the door of the house."

      The confession which Akkal signed stated that Hamas had enlisted him
      to attack Jewish targets in North America. The Israeli military also
      charged him with having been approached by Wahabi to raise money in
      North American mosques. The fund was officially to be raised for
      families of Palestinian suicide bombers but would actually be used
      to fund his militant activities. According to the indictment, Akkal
      was to buy an M-16 rifle in Detroit and bomb materials to carry out
      the attacks in cities where many Jews live. The charge seems strange
      as Hamas has never been active in launching any kind of attacks
      outside Palestine. Under a plea bargain agreement a second charge
      that Akkal underwent military training was dropped.

      Jameel Kahtib, Akkal's lawyer, described Akkal as sad and angry over
      the plea agreement.

      "It's difficult to describe his emotions because he feels he is
      innocent," the lawyer said. "He believes he should be free, but we
      don't have another choice."

      Since his full sentence on November 23, Akkal has pleaded for Prime
      Minister Paul Martin to help him and has repeatedly maintained his
      innocence and hoped that Canadians would not forget him.

      "Even though he is not allowed to speak, in the short walk between
      the holding cell and the courtroom he did proclaim his innocence,"
      CTV's Janis Mackey Frayer told CTV News.

      When she asked Akkal his message for Prime Minister Paul
      Martin, "Get me out of here," were his final words.

      Marie-Christine Lilkoff of Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in
      Ottawa said Canadian officials had followed Akkal's case closely.

      "Now that Mr. Akkal has been sentenced, the Canadian government will
      assist him to explore the options open to him and will continue to
      provide consular assistance. However, we cannot interfere in the
      judicial process of another country," she said.

      This is a strange statement especially when it is contrasted with
      the case of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi who died
      in Iranian custody in July 2003 after being arrested for taking
      pictures outside a prison during a student protest in Tehran. An
      Iranian security agent was charged and acquitted of killing her.
      Canada certainly did "interfere in the judicial process of another
      country" in this case. For example, on July 25, 2004 the Foreign
      Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he was dissatisfied with the
      trial and acquittal of Kazemi's accused killer. In addition, on July
      23, 2003, and then again on July 18, 2004 Canada recalled its
      ambassador to Iran - Philip MacKinnon - over its objections of how
      the case was being handled by the Iranian judiciary. Former Foreign
      Affairs Minister Bill Graham also said he planned to take the case
      to the UN's International Court of Justice. Also on July 21, 2003
      Graham called for swifter action in the investigation into the death
      of Zahra Kazemi. He stated that Kazemi's treatment "was a flagrant
      violation of her rights under international human rights law and a
      breach of obligations that Iran owes to the international
      community." On September 10, 2003 Graham also stated he wanted the
      UN Human Rights commission to help find out what really happened
      when Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in a jail in Iran.
      Only recently has Canada appointed a new ambassador to Iran.

      For the most part Palestinians have been denied the right to express
      their opinions on Akkal's case via the media. The mainstream press
      has instead resorted to inviting Israeli spin doctors who passs
      themselves off as "Hamas experts" and proclaim Israeli courts to be
      the epitome of justice. Furthermore, little or no refernce has been
      made to the fact that Hamas denied it has trained Akkal, has never
      operated outside of Israel and the land it occupies, nor do they
      have any interest in changing that policy. In addition, no
      reference has been made that just a few days before Akkal's arrival
      into Gaza, the Israeli aramy launched an incursion into Rafah -
      described by Amnesty International as "a war crime" - destroying 170
      houses that had sheltered a total of more than 2000 people, leaving
      53 Palestinians wounded, and killing 8, including 3 children.
      Instead what we get is reference to one Palestinian shooting a rifle
      into the air which harmed no one.

      Finally, Akkal himself is not allowed to address the public and
      defend himself and we may never hear him speak in his own words
      until his release 3-4 years from now.

      The bottom line is that Jamal Akkal is yet another victim of the
      Sharon government's attempts to fabricate evidence of a Hamas
      conspiracy in North America, publically demonize the Muslim
      community and create the impression that Muslims are launching acts
      of terror on Canadian soil. This will in turn be used as a pre-text
      to further scrutinize Canadian Muslims and to restrict their civil
      liberties while all the while Israel continues on with its daily
      crimes against the Palestinian people.




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