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Hamas-run court gives death penalty to Gazan for cooperating with Israel
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08:56, December 17, 2008

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A Palestinian military court on Tuesday sentenced a Gaza Strip resident to hanging for alleged security cooperation with Israel.

The military court, run by Islamic Hamas movement, "ruled to hang Mohammed Ali Saidam, 34, after he was found guilty of committing treason, spying, plotting and cooperating with the Zionist enemy," said Ahmed Attalla, head of Hamas' military judicial system.

Attalla said the convicted resident of southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah was arrested last February and he admitted that he received training at Israeli military camps and joined the occupation forces in several raids in Gaza Strip since 2004.

The sentence was made one day after the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) group urged Palestinian officials to announce an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and eliminate it in Palestinian law.

"It's deeply disturbing that Palestinian courts have resumed issuing death sentences at a time when the rest of world is moving toward abolishing capital punishment," said Joe Stork, deputy director of HRW's Middle East division.

Hamas seized Gaza Strip last year after deadly fighting with forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Abbas responded by consolidating his rule in West Bank.

In letters sent to Abbas and Hamas premier Ismail Haneya, HRW said that seven of the 11 death sentences this year were issued by military courts, breaching a commitment made by Abbas in June 2005to refer all death penalty cases to civilian courts.

But the execution requires a written approval by Abbas who is in a power struggle with Hamas. "President Abbas should make clear that he will commute all of these sentences when they arrive on his desk," according to Stork.


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