Abducted Palestinian engineer denies knowledge of captive Israeli soldier

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian engineer who vanished on a Ukrainian train, and mysteriously turned up in an Israeli prison, made his first public comments yesterday. He accused the Jewish state of kidnapping him "for no reason" and said he had no information about an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip.

Dirar Abu Sisi spoke as he entered a court in the city of Petach Tikva for a brief hearing, which extended his arrest until next Tuesday. His lawyer said she had been informed that Abu Sisi will be indicted on unspecified charges next week.

Abu Sisi's case has been shrouded in secrecy because of an Israeli gag order barring publication of most details. He disappeared in the early hours of 19 February after boarding a train in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. His family has accused Israel's Mossad spy agency of abducting him.

As he entered the courtroom, Abu Sisi, 42, told reporters he was just a power plant engineer in Gaza and that "Israel kidnapped me for no reason". He also said he knew nothing about Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in June 2006 by Hamas-linked militants.

Germany's Der Spiegel magazine speculated this week that Israel may have seized Abu Sisi to try to wrest information about the fate of the soldier. Militants have allowed no access to Cpl Schalit since his capture, releasing only a brief videotaped statement from him in October 2009.

Abu Sisi's Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, said that authorities informed her he will be indicted next week but gave no details of the charges. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the case, saying that Abu Sisi belongs to Hamas.

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