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Palestinian serving 67 back-to-back life sentences beaten and abused

Aug. 1, 2008 7:11 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2008 7:11 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Abdullah Al- Barghouthi, who is serving 67 back to back life sentences in Israeli prisons, has sustained severe bruising after he was attacked in Ashkelon prison which is north of the Gaza Strip.

Buthaina Duqmaq, lawyer and head of the Mandela Foundation announced the news on Friday after visiting Al-Barghouthi in prison.

She said that Al-Barghouthi reported not feeling well after being the victim of a surprise attack by Israeli interrogators who broke into his cell the day of Lebanese prisoner Samir Quntar was released on July 16.

Al-Barghouthi reported that he had been surprised while watching TV in his cell, when eight masked soldiers from "Metsada" entered and attacked him using fists and batons. According to Duqmaq soldiers continued to attack as he lay "on the ground helplessly." His report continues, saying that soldiers dragged him out of the cell and forced him into a small dark space for four hours.

When he returned to his cell he found it ransacked and all its contents "including my clothes and TV," missing. He demanded treatment for his injuries, but the third day after his attack soldiers broke into his cell again and searched it and confiscated the TV and the refrigerator.

Al-Barghouthi has denounced the acts, describing them as violent and unjustified.

Duqmaq described the beatings and vandalism as against the legal rights of prisoners.

She added that the Israeli prison administration is following a systematic policy of mistreatment against the prisoners in solitary confinement. She affirmed the necessity of the intervention of the Red Cross to pressure the prison authorities so that Al-Barghouthi can receive treatment, preferably in public facilities.

Duqmaq said that since he was arrested on 5 March 2003 Al-Barghouthi has been subjected to solitary confinement and harsh interrogations. He was moved to Heledar prison under strict surveillance, and had surveillance cameras were installed in his cell. He was recenytly transferred to Ashkelon prison, where he has been kept in solitary confinement for over a year. His family has also been denied permits to visit him, and his lawyers have also been subjected to restricted visits.

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