IMRA interviewed Palestinian Authority Minister of Justice, Freih Abu Meddien, in English, on 31st August:
IMRA: Do you see yesterdays’ executions as setting a precedent for future cases or was it an exception?
Meddien: Any crime committed by murderers as what happened last week will be dealt with by the same standard.
We gave ourselves four years to take the right decision regarding capital punishment. President Arafat always refused to certify these kinds of punishment but finally we reached a red line when a lot of people – particularly those involving people from the military or police, security elements, when they are involved either via their arms or by themselves, to kill people. In this case we have to deal with this subject very accurately, very honestly, with our people. Otherwise we are going to have people taking revenge. We are going to face civil wear between the people themselves, because we are a conservative society. If we don’t do this then the people will think seriously about revenge and then this will make for bloody crimes also. So in this case we have to move and accept the judgment of the military court.
Public opinion made a great impression on this case. There were more than 22 cases up to the present time that President Arafat stopped execution of the people but now he is facing the truth.
IMRA: Do you see this applied to people involved selling land to Zionists?
Meddien: You are talking about collaborators? The main problem we are facing is criminal cases. As for collaborators we have 100 – 200 cases and up until now we don’t have any judgment against them. When we reach this stage we will think.
IMRA: What about people who are selling land to Israelis?
Meddien: According to the judgment of the law or the courts. And when the judgment is capital punishment – why not?
We should take the green light from the law. Otherwise we couldn’t give any decision for capital punishment.
IMRA: Do you see this as an opening also for people picked up by the PA who were involved in attacks against Jews?
Meddien: Actually, we are not thinking of these cases. We are thinking about internal business. Things which could lead to civil war. What I mean is that in a conservative society where there are big clans, big tribes, then when something happens this can be very dangerous for us.
IMRA: One last question. There is talk of an American proposal that the people on the Israeli list for extradition be held by the PA in a location. Is there a legal framework for doing such a thing inside the PA?
Meddien: Actually, according to the agreement, extradition should take place when Israel has fulfilled and honored everything in the Oslo and Cairo agreements. Otherwise, who could accept this part of the agreement?
Absolutely all the people on the list which Israel has sent to us are now serving in prison – either life imprisonment or twenty years or fifteen years. When they finish their sentences in our jails we are ready to transfer them to Israel.
IMRA: What about those who are now serving in the PA’s security forces who are on the list?
Meddien: We are also going to take a hard line in those cases as well.
IMRA: So those people who are on the list who are now serving in Palestinian security forces will…
Meddien: Actually we are focusing now on our own internal problems which are far away from political and security matters.
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645