Fall of West Bank torturer

The Palestinian Authority, which rules Gaza and parts of the West Bank, has sacked its chief law officer, notorious for his tolerance of torture, arbitrary arrests and killings by the Palestinian security forces, and is holding him under house arrest suspected of accepting bribes.

Brigadier General Zakariya Baloushi, a senior official of the Palestinian police in Gaza confirmed that Khalid al-Kidrah, the Palestinian Attorney General, has been fired because "he received bribes and commit-ted several violations". While not confirming that Mr al-Kidrah was formally under arrest Brig Gen Baloushi said: "It is better for him to be at home ...We are protecting him against angry people."

In his three years as Attorney General, Mr al-Kidrah became a symbol to Palestinians of everything rotten in the auto- nomous enclaves which they hope will become an independent state. Torture became endemic. In January, a business- man, Youssef Baba in Nablus, died of a gangrenous wound caused by burns from the electric element of a kettle pressed to his upper arm. He had been tortured over a month during which time he was admitted to a Nablus hospital five times. Palestinian military intelligence refused to let doctors amputate his arm to save his life.

Mr al-Kidrah was notorious for his refusal to respond to pleas from prisoners and their relatives. In January, Fayez al-Qumseih, died in Bethlehem of a heart attack brought on by a beating, though the local prosecutor had told Mr al-Kidrah two months before that there were no grounds for holding him, but the Attorney General had failed to order his release. The only time he showed any speed was in prosecuting journalists who criticised the Palestinian Authority.

The firing of Mr al-Kidrah at the end of last week is being greeted with relief by human rights organisations, who think it may be a turning point for the rule of law in Palestinian areas. Dr Iyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist and a leading human rights campaigner from Gaza, said yesterday: "The firing of the Attorney General marks a real change. He closed his eyes to any violation of human rights. Before, nobody would testify, everybody was scared." He says complaints of human rights violations have declined in recent months and, since Mr Baba was killed, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, had ordered the Palestinian security forces to stop using torture.

Mr al-Kidrah himself denies charges of corruption. When The Independent published pictures of the bodies of Mr Baba and Mr al-Qumseih in February, he wrote to the paper to deny that he "viewed all Palestinian human rights activists as 'a fifth column'." He said that he himself had been imprisoned by Israel and added: "Allow me please to emphasise the simple fact that we here promptly and actively investigate all reports about human rights abuses."

This was news to Dr Sarraj, now the Palestinian Commissioner General for Human Rights, who was arrested three times in Gaza on the orders of Mr al-Kidrah for raising human rights issues, though this was never the official charge.

After being arrested last December, he was beaten, kicked and sentenced to 15 days in prison for assaulting an armed Palestinian policeman. On another occasion police used the fact that "I had a professor of psychiatry from Canada staying with me when I was arrested to suggest I was a Canadian spy."

The vulnerability of Dr Sarraj, a distinguished medical practitioner and Palestinian patriot, to arbitrary arrest showed the lack of restraint of the security services and police. He says: "During my interrogation they told me they had found a large piece of hashish in a drawer in my desk. I offered them $10,000 (pounds 6,100) if they showed me the drawer it came from because my desk has no drawers."

Mr al-Kidrah's fall was sudden. It followed the detention of a private lawyer who had knowledge of the former attorney general's financial affairs. Dr Sarraj says a member of the family of a prisoner would "pay the bail money, would not receive a receipt and the money would not be seen again". After an investigation, Freih Abu Medein, the Palestinian Justice Minister, insisted to Mr Arafat that Mr al-Kidrah be fired or he would resign. Mr Arafat agreed. Mr al-Kidrah was told to go.

The future for Mr al-Kidrah is unclear. Bassam Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group said yesterday that he had been told by officials in the former attorney general's office that "his ID and passport are being held by the authorities". Dr Sarraj has written to Mr Arafat demanding that Mr al-Kidrah be given a trial, something denied to many prisoners when he was attorney general.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power