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Anti-corruption commission pursues PLO land theft

Oct. 10, 2012 11:21 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2012 3:22 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's anti-corruption commission is working to retrieve PLO-owned land registered to individual PLO leaders, commission chief Rafiq Natsha said Wednesday.

So far in 2012, the commission has recovered around 400 dunums of PLO -owned land, Natsha told Ma'an.

In the past, the PLO's land was registered as the private property of PLO leaders, some of whom have voluntarily approached the commission to return it, Natsha told Ma'an.

Other PLO leaders are claiming they own the land and have refused to return it, he said. They have been asked to produce deeds to prove their ownership, and those who failed to do so have been taken to court and forced to cede the land to the PLO.

Natsha said fraudulent land deals had been minimized thanks to legal procedures targeting land theft.

The anti-corruption commission has been working closely with security forces to pursue those who forged land deeds or stole property, the commission chief said.

The anti-graft body is not authorized to conduct trials, but refers suspects to judicial authorities for prosecution.

Some suspected of land fraud have fled to Israel "but there are ways to chase them," Natsha said.

In a recent case, the commission handled a complaint from Christian clerics who had evidence that four people had sold land belonging to the church using forged deeds. Security services are interrogating the suspects, Natsha said.
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