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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Fatah leader sentenced to 15 years by Gaza military court

Fatah leader sentenced to 15 years by Gaza military court
Published yesterday (updated) 08/01/2013 19:22
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=554542

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A military court in Gaza City on Tuesday sentenced a
Fatah military leader to 15 years in jail.

Muhammad al-Sakani told Ma’an that his brother Zaki was accused of terrorism
and illegally possessing explosives and weapons.

Muhammad condemned the verdict as unjust and vowed to appeal the decision.

Zaki, from Gaza City’s Shujaiyya neighborhood, was detained four years ago
and held in a Gaza jail.

Fatah denounced the verdict in a statement, describing it as "unjust because
it was issued by an illegitimate court, and because the motive behind the
verdict was merely political."

"The man was a prominent leader of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Brigades and one of its
best fighters."

"As the verdict comes only hours before a reconciliation-related meeting in
Cairo, it can only be interpreted as confirmation that a trend within Hamas
still endorses rivalry," the statement continued.

President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will be in Cairo on
Wednesday, although officials have not confirmed whether they will meet
together or hold separate talks with Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi.

Their parties remain at loggerheads despite years of reconciliation talks,
having split violently in 2007.

Both Fatah and Hamas deny they hold political prisoners, saying inmates are
wanted for criminal charges not their political affiliation. ICHR notes that
such detentions in the West Bank and Gaza regularly circumvent due process,
and the charges are not generally convincing.

'Bomb-maker'

Al-Sakani, born in 1965, was once wanted by Israeli authorities for his role
in explosives-manufacturing, according to Fatah-affiliated websites.

As the second Palestinian intifada entered its second year, according to
Fatah sources, al-Sakani along with late Fatah leader Abdul-Muti al-Sabaawi
designed the first homemade mortar shell and went on to produce hundreds of
shells.

As a result, the Israeli intelligence tried to hunt him down through several
targeted assassinations, including one which injured him in Gaza City while
he was launching mortar shells at an Israeli settlement, before Israeli
forces disengaged from the coastal enclave.

After Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in July 2008, the security
services of Hamas stormed his home in the Zaytoun neighborhood, but he
escaped, Fatah sources said. Hamas forces confiscated his handgun, a
homemade projectile and several mortar shells and explosives, as well as a
computer.

On July 25, 2008 five high profile leaders of the Hamas' military wing were
killed in an explosion near the beach in Gaza City and about 40 civilians
were injured. Hamas then accused al-Sakani of being behind that explosion.

In August 2008, the Hamas-affiliated website Palestine Today quoted sources
privy to the details as saying that security services in Gaza detained four
suspects including Zaki al-Sakani, a Fatah-affiliated explosives expert.

Al-Sakani was in al-Shifa hospital when he was arrested and jailed, having
survived an assassination attempt a day earlier. A group of gunmen had
opened fire on al-Sakani and he underwent a surgery before he was jailed by
Hamas' security.

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