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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Palestinian anti-corruption body gets boost

Palestinian anti-corruption body gets boost
12/12/2012 By Kafah Zaboun
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=32143

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat - Rafik Natsheh, head of the Palestinian
anti-corruption body, has stated that his organization will now resume its
pursuit of corrupt government figures who have fled abroad. Given that
Palestine has obtained non-member observer status at the United Nations, the
anti-corruption body has the right to pursue corrupt fugitives who have
court judgments issued against them.

Palestine’s observer status has revived the hopes of the anti-corruption
body, which previously encountered difficulties in pursuing wanted fugitives
after Arab and international countries, as well as Interpol, refused to hand
over the accused Palestinian officials.

Natsheh said: “Now that the UN has recognized the Palestinian state we will
pursue corrupt officials who have fled abroad”. He added “In the past we
encountered difficulties in bringing these fugitives to justice, but now the
situation is different. Now Palestine has become a member of the
international police and it is just a matter of time before we repatriate
those corrupt individuals”.

The authorities are pursuing many officials, the most notable of which so
far is Muhammad Rashid, adviser to the late Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat.

Rashid was tried several months ago in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in
prison with hard labor, in addition to a fine of US$ 15 million. He rejects
the charges against him and in turn has launched various accusations at
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas among others.

In addition to Rashid, the authorities want Walid Abdul Rahman Rashid Najab,
Khalid Abdul Ghani Khalid, Khaled al-Farra and Harbi Sarsur to be extradited
on embezzlement charges.

An investigation is currently being conducted into dozens of other
officials, in cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Among those currently being investigated by the anti-corruption body are
Muhammad Rashid and former leader of the Fatah movement Mohammed Dahlan.
Natsheh revealed that “Rashid’s file is one of the largest. As for Dahlan,
he is yet to be charged. In the event of this, the charges will be submitted
to a court as in all other cases”.

In an interview with a Palestinian television station, Natsheh also touched
upon Rashid’s recent accusations directed towards President Abbas. He said
“after a court ruling was issued against a particular corrupt individual, he
launched a smear campaign against the President and key figures in the
Palestinian Authority in an attempt to deflect blame away from himself. He
launched accusations and endless lies against everyone, and referred to
President Abbas in a slanderous manner. He claimed that the President owns
palaces in Ramallah and accused me of overlooking this fact. So I conducted
some research and discovered that the President has lived in an apartment in
Ramallah ever since he returned to the homeland, the same apartment he lives
in now as President of the state of Palestine”. He added “we could not find
any trace of these alleged palaces, and this is just one example of the lies
that have been promoted”.

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