Abu Sisi denies all knowledge of Gilad Schalit

State Attorney’s Office says indictment to be filed against Palestinian engineer; public will learn for first time about crimes that Abu Sisi allegedly committed.

By RON FRIEDMAN, REUTERS
April 1, 2011 05:33
3 minute read.
Veronica Abu Sisi, wife of Dirar Abu Sisi, in Kiev

wife of abu sisi_311. (photo credit: Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

 
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The State Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday that it would file an indictment against Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi on Monday. With the filing of the indictment, the public will learn for the first time about the crimes that Abu Sisi allegedly committed – and about a possible link to abducted soldier Gilad Schalit.

Abu Sisi, who has been in custody in Israel for 40 days, after disappearing from a train in the Ukraine, appeared in court yesterday for his remand hearing. He subsequently spoke to reporters.

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“I know nothing about Gilad Schalit. They asked me about him, but I have nothing to do with him,” Abu Sisi said at the entrance to the Petah Tikva District Courthouse. “It’s all lies. I am a simple man, an engineer. I am innocent.”

Despite his claim of innocence, he was remanded for five extra days following a closed doors hearing.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Abu Sisi had “intimate information” about the inner workings of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, including details regarding abducted soldier Gilad Schalit.

Barak was responding to a report in Der Spiegel, which claimed that the Gaza-based engineer was abducted by Israel due to information he had about Schalit.

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“I cannot confirm the report – and we are not dealing with a direct connection as if he arranged the abduction or guarded him – but he is a person with intimate information about what happens within Hamas, and this has value not just with regard to Gilad Schalit but also on other issues as well,” Barak said in an interview with Israel Radio.

Barak also defended the decision to capture Abu Sisi in Ukraine, and bring him to Israel.

“His presence here is legitimate,” Barak said. “It is not as if someone wakes up in the middle of the night and decides that he doesn’t like the fact that Palestinians are traveling around the world.”

In an interview to Channel 2 news and YouTube on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Abu Sisi was being held in Israeli jail legally.

“I don’t want to relate to this in the context of Gilad Schalit, or any other context,” the prime minister said. “I can only say that he has provided valuable information.”

It is possible that Netanyahu and Barak are laying the groundwork for the full disclosure of the suspicions against Abu Sisi in the coming days – likely around the time an indictment is filed. So far the State Attorney’s Office has only said that the charges are “serious.”

In an interview to Army Radio, Abu Sisi’s wife, Veronica, advocated on behalf of her husband.

“My husband has no links to political movements – not even to Hamas,” she said. “After 12 years in Gaza, we decided to move to Ukraine for financial and security reasons.”

Abu Sisi also rejected the possibility that her husband had disclosed “valuable information.”

She said the same thing to Noam Schalit, the kidnapped soldier’s father in a phone conversation.

Schalit said that he didn’t know whether or not Dirar Abu Sisi was connected to Gilad Schalit, but that the only way to prevent a long prison sentence for him was to accept the German-sponsored deal to exchange Schalit for Hamas prisoners.

A Hamas spokesman said in a statement that Abu Sisi had no links to Hamas, and that Netanyahu’s statement was “an attempt to cover up Israel’s crime of kidnapping him from Ukraine.”

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