Human Rights Organisations and PNGO Demand that the High Military Court publish reasoning of decision to reduce sentence for perpetrators of Vittorio Arrigoni's murder



Human rights organizations and the Palestinian Non Governmental Organisations’ Network are highly concerned over the recent developments in the trial of the murder of Italian human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni. Yesterday, on 19 February 2013, the Military High Court ordered the reduction in the sentence of murderers.

The Permanent Military Court (PMC) in Gaza began the proceedings of Vittorio Arrigoni’s murder case on 11 August 2010. In its judgment on 17 September 2012, the PMC convicted the first defendant (M.S.) and the second defendant (T.H.) on the charges of premeditated killing and kidnapping for the purpose of killing. They were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour or life imprisonment with hard labour, while stating that the more sever punishment would apply. The PMS also sentenced the third defendant (K.E.) to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour, after convicting him of kidnapping for the purpose of killing. The fourth defendant (A.G.) was convicted for harbouring fugitives and was sentenced to one year imprisonment.

However, in its latest decision on 19 February 2013, the court granted the convicts’ appeal by reducing the first and the second defendants’ sentence from life imprisonment with hard labour to 15 years imprisonment. The third defendant’s date for appeal hearing is scheduled on 24 February 2013.

Vittorio Arrigoni, was killed, after having been kidnapped in the evening of 14 April 2011, by a group that calls itself the “Al-Hammam Mohammed Bin Maslama Group.” The Palestinian police found his body 15 April 2011 in a house in the ‘Amer housing project, west of Jabalya, located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) had attended all hearings for the case since the court began the proceedings on 11 August 2011, in its capacity as the legal representative of the Arrigoni family. PCHR officially demanded the court’s panel, in writing, to abstain from applying the death penalty to the defendants if they were convicted, based on its position which rejects the death penalty and in response to the Arrigoni family’s wish expressed in a letter dated 16 December 2011. PCHR notes that the court’s ruling was based on firm beliefs and expressed its content towards the sentence issued by the court.

In the light of the Military High Court’s decision to reduce the convicts’ sentences, it is unclear whether there were developments or changes in the circumstances of the investigation that required adjusting the charges and made the court’s panel change its ruling.

In light of these developments, human rights organisations and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations’ Network:

1. Demand the High Military Court to publish the reasoning of its decision to reduce the sentence as soon as possible, in order to clarify its motive despite the seriousness of the crime.

2. Assert that the demand to abstain from applying the death penalty to the defendants is based on their position which rejects the death penalty and in compliance with the Arrigoni family’s wish; however, it does not mean that tolerance or waiver of the private or public right, when dealing with perpetrators of dangerous and serious crimes like in this case.


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