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Report: Palestinian territories

Palestinian prisoner groups challenge rearrests following Shalit deal

Reuters/Ariel Hermoni

Palestinian prisoners' rights organisations petitioned the Israeli High Court Wednesday morning. Addameer and the Palestinian Prisoners' Club sought to challenge legislation that saw the rearrest of 10 people freed under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, whose terms have never been made public.

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Lawyers representing the prisoners stated that they were told to make their appeals to a military committee before bringing the case before the High Court.

The coalition of prisoners' rights groups filed the petition against article 186 of Military Decree 1651, made law just prior to the Shalit deal.

This created a military committee able to command the rearrest of prisoners using secret military information to serve the rest of their previous sentence.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

The Israeli High Court ruled that the group should file their petition with this military committee rather than the judicial branch.

“To my understanding, the deal was with these people that they would be released even though they were still serving their sentence, but if they went back to terrorist activity they would be called upon to serve the rest of their sentence,” Lt Col (res) David Benjamin, former Director of the International and Strategic Branch in the Israeli Defence Force's International Law Department, told RFI.

Mahmoud Hassan, the legal representative for Addameer explained why they are fighting article 186.

“Neither the prisoner nor their lawyer can know where they obtained the evidence or what the violation is, or how valid it is, and it is the committee, not the prosecution, that chooses the sentence," he said. "This law denies prisoners the right to a true defence.”

The decision affects several prisoners on long-term partial hunger strikes, such as Ayman Sharawneh, whose sentence will be decided in the military court on 28 February.

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