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Affidavit No. 7792/2012

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Sa’id ‘Abdul-Muttalib Sa’id al-Zaqzouq, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 93731136, born on 15 March 1952, unemployed, and a resident of the al-Qarara town, Khan Younis governorate, would like to declare the following:

At around 9:00 am on Tuesday, 16 October 2012, two persons came on a motorcycle to our home in the al-Qarara town, Khan Younis governorate. They were in civilian clothes. One of them told me that they were members of the General Investigations department of the Gaza government’s Ministry of Interior. However, they did not present any identification documents. I recognised one of them by his face. He was from the al-Astal family in Khan Younis. Indeed, he confirmed to me that he was from the al-Astal family. That person then asked whether my son Muhammad, 27, was at home or not. Muhammad was married, father of three children and worked in the tunnels. I said that Muhammad was asleep, but the person from the al- Astal family ordered me to bring him out at once.

I went in and told Muhammad that General Investigations officers were waiting at the door and wanted to talk to him. Muhammad got up and went out to speak with the Investigations officers. They ordered him to get on the motorcycle immediately. They detained him without having presented a legally issued arrest warrant. An Investigations officer told me that they were taking my son Muhammad to the al-Qarara Police station for interrogation. My brother Jamal al-Zaqzouq had filed a complaint against Muhammad for having attempted to burn his car. About ten days ago, my son Muhammad quarrelled with his uncle Jamal because the latter had tried to run him over while he was walking with his cousin Mu’ath along a street in the al-Qarara area. The quarrel escalated after Jamal had attempted to run over Muhammad. Muhammad tried to set fire to his uncle’s car with gasoline. I was not worried about Muhammad’s detention. It was normal for the Police to detain and release him several hours later. On several occasions, my son Muhammad was detained because of disputes he had with some residents of the area. Each time, he was released several hours after he was detained. My son Muhammad was infamous for the many problems he caused.

At around 6:30 pm on the same day, I received a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the Khan Younis Police station. He told me that my son Muhammad had been transported to the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. He said that Muhammad had attempted to commit suicide using a blanket in the cell he was held in at the Police station. That person also reported that Muhammad was in critical condition and that he was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit at the hospital. However, I told him that relatives of mine, who worked at the hospital, told us that my son Muhammad had died. He then said that Muhammad had indeed died and that his body was in the mortuary at the hospital. He requested that I come to the hospital immediately.

Along the head of the family Nathmi al-Zaqzouq and some men of my extended family, I went to Nasir hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, police officers refused to allow us to visit the mortuary to see my son’s body. As they quarrelled, police officers assaulted and insulted the head of the family. They prevented us from seeing Muhammad’s corpse.

About an hour and a half later, a police force arrived with a committee from Gaza city that had been established by The Ministry of Interior to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of my son Muhammad. Representatives of human rights organisations accompanied the Police force and the committee. Then, they allowed us to see Muhammad’s body. Contrary to the Police’s claim that he hanged himself with a blanket, I did not notice any evidence of hanging on Muhammad’s neck. At the family’s request, my son Muhammad’s body was later transported to the al-Shifa’ hospital in Gaza in order to conduct an autopsy and identify the cause of his death. The head of the family, my brothers and I waited at the Forensic Medicine Institute at the al-Shifa’ hospital until the autopsy was completed. Based on instructions from the Public Prosecution, Dr. Yousif al-‘Amoudi, Director General of the Forensic Medicine Institute in Gaza, allowed representatives of human rights organisations to view and take photographs of the body after the autopsy had been done. These included Muhammad Abu Rahmah, researcher at Al-Haq in Ramallah, and Samir Mukheimar, researcher at the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza.

Later, the forensic pathologist told us that, in accordance with the law, he would send his report to the Attorney General. However, he did not inform us of the cause of death. Then, we received the dead body, returned to our home in Khan Younis, and started preparations to bury it. I hold the Police agency responsible for the death of my son inside the Khan Younis Police station. In particular, I hold responsible the director and the personnel of the Khan Younis Police station.

 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 17 October 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7792/2012
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 17 October 2012
  • Name: Sa’id ‘Abdul-Muttalib Sa’id al-Zaqzouq