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Palestinian officers go on trial over death of Abbas critic By Reuters


© Reuters. Palestinian demonstrators attend an anti-Palestinian Authority protest, forty days after the death of Nizar Banat, a critic of the Palestinian Authority, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 2, 2021 REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

By Ali Sawafta and Zainah El-Haroun

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – A Palestinian military court on Monday began the trial of 14 security officers charged with beating to death a prominent critic of President Mahmoud Abbas, in a case that has drawn widespread protests and calls for his resignation.

Nizar Banat’s death following his arrest on June 24 has heightened criticism of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and his security forces, who human rights groups say regularly arrest critics in the occupied West Bank. Abbas has denied all charges.

An autopsy carried out the day Banat died showed he was struck in the head and over the body with metal rods, leading to his death. PA, which is limited in its authority over the West Bank has promised to take those who are responsible accountable.

The indicted officials pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including abuse of power, battery and violating military instructions.

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Banat’s loved ones demanded the arrest of senior Palestinian officials over Banat’s death. The accusation included battery, abuse of power and violation military instructions. Abbas was also charged with deflecting responsibility.

Ghassan Banat, Banat’s brother said outside of the courthouse that this was an incomplete and incomplete case. “Everyone involved is a victim, except the interior minister, head Preventive Security Services Services, and his deputy.”

Talal Dweikat Security Services spokeswoman said that Banat wasn’t killed by his deputy director in Hebron after an internal inquiry. Lawyers for the indicted officers did not respond to our request.

Banat has more than 100,000 Facebook fans (NASDAQ:). He often criticised Abbas for delaying a long-delayed May election and accused him of corruption. Banat registered for this contest as a candidate in the House of Representatives.

After Banat’s suicide, the pressure on Abbas has intensified and his approval rating continues to plummet.

A September poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research revealed that 78% of respondents want Abbas to step down. That’s a 10 percent rise from the previous poll released three months before Banat was killed.

On Oct. 4, the next hearing will be held for all 14 officers.

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