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Three Fatah members sentenced for murder of journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has written to Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh condemning the death sentences which a Gaza military court imposed on 24 May 2009 on three men for the May 2007 murder of two journalists, Souleyman Al-Ashi and Mohammed Abdu. The three men are all Fatah members.

"We believe that all those who murder journalists should be arrested and brought to trial (. . .) but we are totally opposed to the death penalty, which violates basic human rights principles," Reporters Without Borders said in its letter. "Furthermore, this sentence is clearly politically-motivated, a result of the clashes between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Justice, including military justice, should not be used for partisan ends."

The letter added: "Justice should be rendered to Souleyman Al-Ashi and Mohammed Abdu but the death sentences passed on their convicted murderers should be commuted to jail terms."

Ashi and Abdu, who worked for the pro-Hamas newspaper "Palestine", were murdered on 13 May 2007 during fighting between Hamas and Fatah that led to Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip on 17 June 2007.

The three Fatah members who were sentenced to death are Shadi Khadar Ahmed, Raed Sabri Maqusi and Shadi Abdelkarim Madhun. Ahmed, 30, was arrested on 10 October 2007 and is being held by the Gaza police. Maqusi, 29, was arrested on 13 March 2008 but escaped from the Gaza City prison during an Israeli air strike on 28 December 2008 that was part of Operation Cast Lead. Madhun, 30, has yet to be arrested.

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