On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, Hussam Khader, who was an elected Palestinian Legislative Council Member at the time of his arrest, issued a statement regarding his case. The Israeli military court postponed his sentencing nearly 20 times as it was well-stated by lawyers “there was no case.” Eventually he was sentenced to seven years in Israeli prison, although lawyers, nor Khader, ever saw the evidence the Israelis used against him.

The legal statement follows in full;

“In a statement released this week, the imprisoned Palestinian leader, Hussam Khader, called on the Palestinian people and their leaders to mark 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners Day. He also called on international supporters who support freedom and justice worldwide to stand along side Palestinians, including the 9,400 prisoners who continue to be victimized by Israel’s brutal military occupation.

“Hussam Khader, a senior Fateh leader and former Palestinian Legislative Council member, has spent three years illegally detained in Israel. In November 2005, after a two and one half year trial, he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) who monitored Khader’s trial in an Israeli military court expressed serious concerns. Their legal observer concluded that “Khader has not, since his arrest two and one half years ago, had the benefit of compliance with the international rules of a fair trial.”

“The IPU trial report notes a number of periods during Khader’s detention when he “disappeared” from the sight of his family and lawyer, who were not informed of his whereabouts, which was in clear violation of international law. The trial report also quotes Khader describing the torture and inhumane treatment he suffered during intensive interrogation and prolonged detention, and called for these allegations “to be the subject of an impartial investigation.”

“Throughout his trial Khader stated he believes the case against him was an attempt to silence him because of his political beliefs, his comments on corruption and the lack of transparency in the former government. His staunch support for a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees and their Right of Return, as enshrined in UN Resolution 194, was also frowned upon. Forty-eight Parliamentarians from around the world have called for Khader’s immediate release.

“Hussam Khader is one of approximately 9,400 Palestinians currently imprisoned in 28 jails and detention centers in Israel (87 percent of who are from the West Bank and seven percent from Gaza). Legal and trial proceedings that violate international human rights law and being subjected to torture and inhuman treatment are not only evident in Khader’s case, but are common practices in the cases of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, as documented by Palestinian and international human rights organizations.

“Imprisonment and detention are used by Israel to suppress the Palestinian struggle for freedom and resistance to military occupation. In a 1999 survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 45 percent of Palestinian males under the age of 40 said they had been in jail at some point in their lives. These figures increased significantly after the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees, since the Al-Aqsa intifada, some 40,000 Palestinians have been arrested, including 500 women (of whom 120 are currently detained) and 4,000 children (of who 330 are still detained).

“Thirteen members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are in jail, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sadaat, recently seized from [PA] Jericho prison, and during the recent election campaign, hundreds of political representatives were detained in an attempt to disrupt the democratic processes of the elections. Torture and inhuman treatment of all prisoners – including women and children – is routine. Of the total number of prisoners, 810 are held as administrative detainees, against whom no charges are brought and who are detained indefinitely, in addition to 3,908 of the total number of prisoners (41 percent) who are awaiting trial. Many prisoners, also including women and some 70 children are sick and suffering from chronic illness and are in urgent need of medical treatment, which they are denied.

“The Committee in Support of Hussam Khader and Palestinian Prisoners demands that pressure be brought to bear on Israel to ensure that Palestinian prisoners receive their full rights as enshrined in international human rights law and conventions to which Israel is a signatory.”