Family of Palestinian found dead in Turkish prison after UAE spying charges dismiss suicide claim

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Zaki’s son, Yusuf, told Al-Arabiya that there should be an international commission to investigate his father’s death. (Al-Arabiya screengrab)
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Zaki Mubarak Hassan had been found hanging in his cell in Silivri prison on Sunday. (AFP/File)
Updated 29 April 2019

Family of Palestinian found dead in Turkish prison after UAE spying charges dismiss suicide claim

  • Turkish prosecutor says Zaki Mubarak Hassan killed himself in an Istanbul prison cell on Sunday 
  • Family call for international investigation into his death and dismiss spying charges

AMMAN: The family of a Palestinian man found dead in prison after being accused of spying for the UAE have dismissed Turkish claims that he committed suicide.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said Monday that Zaki Mubarak Hassan had been found hanging in his cell in Silivri prison on Sunday.

But his brother, Zakeria, told Arab News that they did not believe he had killed himself and called for an “international investigation.”

Zaki was one of two suspects charged earlier this month with international, political and military espionage, Reuters reported.

The pair were arrested on April 19 and had confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the UAE, a senior Turkish official said at the time.

The prosecutor’s statement on Monday said an investigation has been launched and the Istanbul forensics institute has carried out an autopsy. 

But Zakaria challenged the Turkish government to produce video footage from the cell to prove how his brother died.

“I don't trust the Turkish government nor do I trust the Palestinian ambassador (to Turkey),” Zakaria told Arab News from his home in Bulgaria. “I want an international investigation of what happened to him.

“My brother is innocent and our lawyers told us he would be released. The Turkish government didn't want that because they didn’t want to show that they made a mistake.”

Zakaria said his brother, who had nine children, went to Turkey for business and to make money for his family. He said Zaki’s lawyer told him they had met on Friday and expected him to be released this week.

Turkey, he said, “cared more for its political interests rather than justice.”

He said he had informed the Palestinian ambassador in Ankara of his brother’s disappearance from a restaurant in Istanbul before his arrest was announced, but that the embassy stopped taking his calls.

Zaki’s son, Yusuf, told Al-Arabiya that there should be an international commission to investigate his father’s death.

“I want the creation of a specialized medical committee, including a trusted Palestinian doctor who can go there and do the autopsy on my father’s corpse in order to find the truth himself,” he said.

Relations between Turkey and Gulf allies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, deteriorated after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October.


Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

Updated 19 min 4 sec ago

Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

  • Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity”
  • He expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October"

BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to begin implementing in October a set of economic and financial measures agreed by its top leadership that will boost economic growth, President Michel Aoun said on Sunday, vowing that he would to tend to this himself.
He was referring to decisions taken at a top-level meeting earlier this month with the aim of reviving an economy that has been growing slowly for years and is struggling with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
After the Aug. 9 meeting, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said agreed steps included finishing the 2020 budget on time, drawing up a plan to start $3.3 billion of projects approved by parliament, full implementation of a power sector reform plan, and laws to fight tax evasion and regulate public tenders.
“I will personally tend to the implementation path of the decisions of the financial and economic meeting” in cooperation with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and other parties in government, Aoun said.
In written comments to Reuters, Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity,” including in the implementation of the 2019 budget and its reforms.
Aoun said he expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October after the conclusion of the current preparations ... which will lead to lifting of the growth rates, reflecting positively on the economic and financial situations.”
After years of backsliding on economic reform, the impetus to act has grown due to economic stagnation and a slowdown in the flow of dollars into Lebanon’s banks from abroad. Lebanon has depended on such flows from its diaspora to finance the current account and the state budget deficits.
Foreign governments and donor institutions last year pledged $11 billion in financing to Lebanon for major infrastructure at the so-called Cedre conference in Paris, on condition that it carries out reforms.
Measures to reduce the budget deficit and reform the power sector, which bleeds public funds while inflicting daily power cuts on Lebanese, are seen as two vital tests of the government’s ability to reform.
The International Monetary Fund said in July this year’s deficit is likely to be well above a targeted 7.6% of national output.
It said the power reform plan and a budget to reduce the deficit were “very welcome first steps” and “further substantial fiscal adjustment and structural reforms” were needed.
Aoun said work was underway to approve the 2020 budget in the constitutional timeframe.
It would include “new, resolute reforms” agreed at the Aug. 9 meeting to reduce the power sector deficit, improve tax collection and fight customs and tax evasion.
Aoun also said frameworks must be put in place for implementing a plan drawn up by management consulting firm McKinsey for revamping the economy and this should coincide with the start of projects outlined at the Cedre conference.