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Egypt returns body of Hamas official's brother who died in prison

Oct. 14, 2009 11:14 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 17, 2009 3:16 P.M.)
Al-Arish – Ma’an – Egypt returned to Gaza the body of a man Hamas claims died as a result of torture at the hands of Egyptian security forces, officials said on Wednesday.

Hamas announced on Tuesday that Yousef Abu Zuhri, the brother of Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, had died after being tortured in an Egyptian prison.

Jaser Mashukhi, an official on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing point, said that the body was handed over on Wednesday morning.

“An Egyptian ambulance coming from Alexandria arrived at the crossing with Yousef’s body early on Wednesday … Egyptian authorities completed the delivery of the body of the deceased to the Palestinian side,” Mashukhi said.

The official added that a medical report delivered with the body said that “Abu Zuhri died of health problems he faced while he was imprisoned in an Egyptian jail in Alexandria.”

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri was not present at the crossing to receive his brother’s body, reportedly due to the Israeli airstrikes on smuggling tunnels in the border area at the time of the handover.

Mashukhi said the body was sent to Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital in the city of Rafah. A funeral and burial are planned for later on Wednesday.

Egyptian security forces arrested 38-year-old Yousef Abu Zuhri from an apartment in the city of Al-Arish after receiving information that he entered the country through one of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza.

During a news conference in Gaza on Tuesday, Sami Abu Zuhri said his brother had been tortured over the past two weeks causing massive internal bleeding which ultimately caused his death.

Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman General Hamdi Abdel Karim denied that torture had been the cause of death. Rather, he said Abu Zuhri "died a natural death from a drop in blood circulation," according to a report from French news agency AFP.

Egypt is currently mediating negotiations toward a unity agreement between Hamas, which controls Gaza and rival party Fatah, which dominates the West Bank.
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