Palestinians say detainee tortured before death

Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:14pm EST
 

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian officials said on Sunday a Palestinian detainee who died in an Israeli prison was tortured before his death, but Israel said autopsy findings were preliminary and inconclusive.

The death of 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli jail on Saturday and a hunger strike by four inmates have flared tension across the occupied West Bank, where stone-throwing protesters clashed with Israeli soldiers on Sunday.

The Palestinian autopsy findings could further fuel unrest that has surged in the Palestinian Territories weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit the region. Israel demanded the Palestinian Authority restore calm to the area.

Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqea said Jaradat died as result of torture. The Palestinian Authority state pathologist was present at the autopsy on Jaradat's body, which was carried out in Israel.

"There were marks of torture on the back, marks of torture on the chest, a deep wound on the upper side of the shoulder, wounds alongside the spine and marks of torture underneath the skin," Qaraqea said, based on the Palestinian doctor's basic findings.

But Israel's Health Ministry said the injuries found in the autopsy could have been caused by the medical emergency team's efforts to resuscitate Jaradat.

It listed bruising on Jaradat's shoulder, chest and two elbows, as well as fractures in two of his right ribs.

"These initial findings are not enough to determine the cause of death," the Health Ministry said, adding that further test results were not yet in. An Israeli police spokesman said the investigation into Jaradat's death was still ongoing.   Continued...

 
A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw a stone at Israeli soldiers and border policemen during clashes at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini