'Jaradat death probe may include int'l agent'

Corpse sent for autopsy in presence of Palestinian pathologist; UN official says "clear signs of torture" found on body.

jaradat300 (photo credit: Reuters)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel will weigh incorporating a foreign official in the examination of the autopsy results of Arafat Jaradat, found dead at Megiddo Prison on Saturday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on the Knesset floor on Wednesday.
The minister’s statements coincide with a call by UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk for an international inquiry into Jaradat’s death.
Responding to questioning from MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) about what he said were open-ended questions regarding Jaradat’s death, Aharonovitch said that “all of the material found will be passed to the investigating judge. We may incorporate an international official in order to refute the rumors being published.”
“An autopsy was performed by Prof. [Yehuda] Hiss in the presence of Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber al-Alul and Prof. [Arnon] Afek from the Health Ministry’s Medical Administration,” Aharonovitch said. “At this time it is not possible to determine the cause of death. The Institute [of Forensic Medicine] is awaiting the results of the autopsy.”
The public security minister said that all suspicions surrounding the death are being examined and that in the coming days the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute will release their full report on the cause of death, at which point the picture will become clearer.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that a Palestinian forensics expert had already ruled that the cause of death was torture.
Jaradat’s death inflamed tensions in the West Bank that was already the site of rolling, violent protests and clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli security forces over the past week, mainly in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners who have been on a hunger strike to protest administrative detention.
Aharonovitch’s Public Security Ministry is in charge of the Israel Police, the Border Police and the Prisons Service.
Also on Wednesday, a UN human rights investigator called for an international inquiry into Jaradat’s death.
“The death of a prisoner during interrogation is always a cause for concern, but in this case, when Israel has shown a pattern and practice of prisoner abuse, the need for outside, credible investigation is more urgent than ever,” said Falk, also an American law professor.
Falk suggested the UN Human Rights Council might set up an international forensic team to investigate Jaradat’s death.
He said Alul had found “clear signs of torture on the body of the previously healthy 30-year-old Jaradat.”
“In light of Dr. Alul’s findings that there was no evidence of heart disease or damage, and that there were signs of torture on Jaradat’s body, an independent international investigation should be launched,” Falk said.
The office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Israel to conduct a full inquiry and reveal its findings.
“We strongly encourage Israeli authorities to carry out a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into his death. The results should, in our view, be made public,” Pillay’s spokesman Rupert Colville told Reuters on Wednesday.
“If reports suggesting he died from torture turn out to be true, then Israel must hold the perpetrators accountable by bringing criminal charges.”
Reuters contributed to this report.