Palestinian officials are facing trial over the deaths of Abbas’s critics

© Reuters Palestinian protesters take part in anti-Palestinian protests, 40 days after the death of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat in the Israeli-occupied West Bank Ramallah 2, 2021 Reuters / Mohamed Torokman

By Ali Sawafta and Joynah El-Harun

Ramallah, West Bank (Reuters) – A Palestinian military court on Monday began the trial of a security official accused of beating to death a prominent critic of President Mahmoud Abbas, sparking widespread protests and calling for his resignation.

Nizar Banat’s death has risen since his arrest on June 2 Its security forces, which human rights groups say, regularly arrest critics in the occupied West Bank. Abbas has denied the allegations.

An autopsy was conducted on , Led to his death. The PA, which has limited self-government in the West Bank, has vowed to hold those responsible accountable.

The accused officers appeared in a court session in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday and were found guilty because prosecutors read the chargesheets, including batteries, abuse of power and violation of military orders.

But Banat’s family has demanded that senior Palestinian officials be held accountable for the deaths of Abbas and his prime minister, Mohammed Shatayah.

“This is an incomplete and partial court case, and each of them is a scapegoat, unless the interior minister, the head of the Preventive Security Services and his deputy are behind bars,” Banat’s brother Ghassan said outside the court.

Security Service spokesman Talal Dwaikat said Sept. 5 that an internal investigation had found that the deputy director of the city of Hebron, where Banat was arrested, was not involved in his death. Lawyers for the accused officials did not comment.

With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook (NASDAQ :), Banat often accuses the PA of corruption and criticizes Abbas’s postponement of the long-delayed election in May. Banat registered as a parliamentary candidate for that contest.

Since Banat’s death, pressure on Abbas, 5, has risen and his approval rating has plummeted.

About %% want Abbas to resign, according to a September survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, three months before Banat’s death, the group grew 10 percent from the survey.

The next hearing of 1 officers will be held in October.

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