Protests after Gaza court cuts sentence in Italian murder case

Updated 20 February 2013
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Protests after Gaza court cuts sentence in Italian murder case

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian human rights groups and NGOs demanded yesterday that a Gaza court explain why it had cut the life sentences handed to two men for the murder of an Italian national.
The statement was issued a day after a military court accepted an appeal by two militants who were convicted last year of the kidnap and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in 2011.
Both were sentenced to life behind bars but escaped the death penalty following a request from Arrigoni’s family.
“In its latest decision on Feb. 19, the court granted the convicts’ appeal by reducing the first and the second defendants’ sentence from life imprisonment with hard labor to 15 years imprisonment,” said a statement by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al-Mezan, Addameer and the Palestinian NGO network. In response, they demanded that the court “publish the reasoning of its decision to reduce the sentence as soon as possible, in order to clarify its motive.” Although the family had expressed a wish that the court refrain from applying the death penalty, it was not a license for “tolerance or waiving the private or public right when dealing with perpetrators of dangerous and serious crimes like in this case,” it said.


A third man who was also convicted in connection with the Arrigoni murder will also appeal on Feb. 24 to reduce the 10-year sentence he was handed.
In their appeal, the two militants had asked the court drop the murder conviction, leaving only kidnapping on their file, but it was not immediately clear whether that part of the appeal was accepted.
Arrigoni, 36, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was kidnapped on April 14, 2011 and, later on, found hanged in an abandoned house in northern Gaza.
It was the first time a foreign national had been murdered in Gaza since Hamas took over.


New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

Updated 18 min 7 sec ago
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New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

GAZA CITY: Two Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel were pronounced dead Monday, a Gaza official said, bringing the toll from Israeli fire since March 30 to 40.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry named the latest fatalities as Tahrir Wahba, 18, and Abdullah Shamali, 20.
Wahba, who was deaf, was shot in the head in a clash east of Khan Yunis on April 6, and Shamali died of “bullet wounds to his belly” sustained on Friday, said spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.
Most of the 40 Palestinians killed by Israel since the start of “March of Return” protests on March 30 were shot by snipers on the border, while a few others were killed by Israeli artillery or air strikes.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the coastal enclave, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, have gathered at the border on consecutive Fridays to call for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Some protesters have launched stones or burning tires at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces have responded with live ammunition, wounding hundreds in addition to those killed.
The Israeli army says its troops only opened fire in self-defense or to stop protesters attempting to breach the barrier separating the territory from Israel.
More than 440 demonstrators suffered bullet wounds or gas inhalation on Friday, rescuers said.
Israel has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups along with calls for investigations by the United Nations or the European Union.
Israel has for more than a decade imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, fighting three wars with Hamas since 2008.
Also on Monday, Hamas’s military wing said one of its men died in an explosion.
It said in a statement that Mohammed Al-Maqadma, 55, was killed by an “explosive projectile” fired by an unnamed group which it described as hostile to Hamas.
It did not elaborate further.
The Gaza health ministry said a child was wounded in the same blast, in the northern part of the strip.