Arafat's men try to hush up jail death

At midnight, Palestinian special police came to the house of Suhailah Fityani in Jericho and told her that her son was dead. A few hours before, Rashid Fityani, held without trial for nearly two years in the local prison, where he was repeatedly tortured, had been killed by a guard during a scuffle.

At first the police story was that Fityani, 26, had tried to escape. Later, a police official said he was working outside his cell when he got into an argument, which turned into a fist fight, and finally a guard, whom he had beaten up, shot him dead.

It did not seem very likely. Fityani was the second member of a group of six men from Jericho, one of the Palestinian autonomous areas, to die in the town's central prison after they were arrested on the same day last year, accused of collaborating with Israel.

His death confirms the reputation of the Palestinian Authority, led by Yasser Arafat, for ill-treating prisoners held by its 11 different police and security forces. At least nine other people have died as a result of torture in the past two years, according to an Amnesty report this week. "It is terrible, a dark day for Palestinian society and fully confirming what Amnesty says about systematic torture," said Bassem Eid, of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, yesterday.

Fityani differs from the other 2,000 Palestinians arrested and held without trial by the Palestinian Authority in that the last two years of his life can be fully documented. He was arrested early on 15 January 1995 by men from the Preventive Security Service, the largest Palestinian secret- police agency.

Detained with him was his brother-in-law, Salman Jalaytah, 45, and four other men. The Preventive Security believed they were Israeli collaborators involved in the killing of an Islamic militant in a refugee camp outside Jericho. In testimony published by Amnesty, Fityani told his family he and Jalaytah were tortured in the same room for three days.

Both were allegedly given electric shocks and beaten with cables. Their flesh was pinched with pliers. They were given nothing to eat or drink for three days, at the end of which Jalaytah died. His body was taken to Jericho hospital; his family saw he was bruised but no autopsy report was published. Fityani was given half a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge a week after being arrested.

The police in Jericho did not show much confidence that their story of how Fityani died would stand up to much investigation. Issam Jalaita, the guard who shot the prisoner, either in self-defence or as he tried to escape, according to officials, had been arrested and was in jail. At the hospital there was an armed police guard preventing anybody seeing the Fityani's body and another outside the house of his mother, Suhailah. He refused to let anybody enter, citing "orders", though he refused to say from whom. A member of Preventive Security told journalists gathering outside the house that "the family does not want to talk to you. Please leave".

At this point, a window in the green door behind the Preventive Security man flew open and Suhailah Fityani, a diminutive woman of about 60, in traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, shouted: "Why won't you let me talk to the press? My son was in a jail without trial for two years and then they killed him." As a security man forced Mrs Fityani away from the door she screamed: "Get your hand off me or I'll break it. I want to talk."

More police arrived and tried unsuccessfully to disperse the small crowd of journalists. After half an hour the green door was opened again, this time by a Preventive Security agent, who smirked as he ushered forward Mrs Fityani. In a chastened voice she said: "I want you all to go away. Nothing you do can give me back my son. He died a supporter of Abu Amar [Yasser Arafat]."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine