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Ukrainian detainee denies deportation reports

March 26, 2010 10:43 A.M. (Updated: March 30, 2010 1:16 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Irena Sarahna, a Ukrainian detainee in Israeli custody, on Thursday told lawyer Taghrid Jahshan that the Israel Prison Service had not informed her of any decision to deport her, countering news reports that her deportation was imminent.

Jahshan, a lawyer for the Women's Organization for Political Prisoners, visited Sarahna at the Hasharon prison on Thursday.

"The deportation news reports are completely baseless and false. I haven't received any official notice by the Israel Prison Service that I will be deported to the Ukraine," Jahshan quoted her client as saying, countering recent remarks by a Palestinian official.

On Wednesday, Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe described the supposed Israeli decision to deport Sarahna as "dangerous and tyrannical," and a violation of human rights and international law.

Sarahna appealed to all media outlets to double-check such claims before publishing news reports about her case, explaining that the recent news about her deportation has had a negative influence on her and her husband.

Irena Sarahna was born in the Ukraine and is married Ibrahim Sarahna from the Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. Her husband is serving a concurrent sentence of six life terms plus 45 years.

The couple was detained in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, and charged with transporting a Palestinian who detonated a bomb strapped to his chest in Rishon Letzion in 2002. The explosion killed two Israelis and injured 50.

The Israeli intelligence service Shabak, known as the Shin Bet, claimed both suspects admitted that they transferred Issa Bdair from the West Bank city of Beit Jala, as well as another Palestinian girl from Beit Sahour, who intended to undertake another operation.

Irena was initially sentenced to three years and was given the option of either being deported back to the Ukraine or serving a jail sentence. Her lawyers appealed but lost the case and her sentence was extended to 20 years.

The couple has two daughters, seven-year-old Ghazala, who lives with her grandparents in Duheisha, and nine-year-old Jasmin, who lives in Russia with her maternal grandmother.
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