Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns that the World Vision employee indicted by the Israeli authorities on terrorism charges will not get a fair trial.
The senior Gaza-based NGO official Mohammad el Halabi is facing 12 charges, following his arrest in June at Erez crossing.
In a press release Monday, Amnesty International draws attention to reports that the trial will take place in secret. According to a senior official at the global rights group, “holding these court proceedings behind closed doors would render any convictions obtained unsound.”
Amnesty also highlights serious issues related to due process, noting that Halabi was “not permitted to see a lawyer until…three weeks after his arrest, and therefore faced intensive interrogations without legal representation.” He was finally charged “more than seven weeks after his arrest.”
Amnesty notes allegations that Halabi was “seriously mistreated in custody”, adding that his lawyer is “prevented from disclosing the details of that allegation, as well as many other elements of the case, by a set of severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on reporting around the case.”
The lawyer told Amnesty that “the restrictions were exponentially more severe than any she had seen in her more than forty years of experience.”
According to Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, “without independent and impartial investigations into these allegations [of torture and confession under duress] the trial risks being fundamentally flawed.”
Amnesty also pointed to statements made by Israeli authorities “that risk prejudicing the course of justice”, including press releases by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that treated as fact the allegations concerning Halabi.