Hamas detains PA's A-G over cover-up

Witnesses: PA's Chief Prosecutor Ahmed Mughami beaten prior to his arrest.

Members of Hamas's Executive Force on Thursday detained Palestinian Authority Attorney-General Ahmed al-Mughni on suspicion of conspiring to smuggle files of Palestinians involved in financial corruption and murder. Mughni, who had been appointed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was detained hours after Hamas Minister of Justice Yusef al-Mansi fired him from his job. Saber Khalifeh, spokesman for the Executive Force, announced that Mughni was detained as he walked out of his office in Gaza City carrying 120 files related to cases of financial corruption and murder. He said some of the files implicated commanders of Fatah's security forces in the Gaza Strip. "He was trying to smuggle the files out of his office," Khalifeh said. "When he was confronted by the Executive Force, he returned the files and was detained for an hour." Ihab al-Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, said Mughni was detained after he showed up at work even though he had been dismissed. "He went to the office to remove some files on the instructions of the Fatah leadership in Ramallah," he said. "He was briefly detained following a verbal altercation with members of the Hamas security force." Mughni denied the charges and accused Hamas of using force to detain him. "About 70 Hamas militiamen raided my office in an unacceptable manner and led me away under the threat of weapons," he said. Mughni said he had no intention to step down, adding that only Abbas was authorized to fire him. He said he was requested by Hamas to sign a document pledging that he would not leave the Gaza Strip, talk to the media or enter his office. He did not say whether he agreed to sign the document. In response to the detention, the PA Attorney-General's Office suspended its activities until further notice. Deputy Attorney-General Abdel Ghani Owaiwi condemned the detention of his boss and accused Hamas of kidnapping him. A senior official in Abbas's office strongly condemned the detention of Mughni and accused Hamas of seeking to destroy the institutions of the Palestinians and their democratic system. "Hamas is consolidating the dictatorship of the outlawed militias in the Gaza Strip," he said. "This move also exposes Hamas's false statements about its keenness of resuming national dialogue with Fatah and its purported success in imposing law and order in the Gaza Strip." Riad al-Malki, the information minister in the Fatah-controlled government of Salaam Fayad, said the detention "reflects the extent of Hamas's fascism." In a related development, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip attacked Hamas for banning journalists from covering the incident at Mughni's office. It called on the international community to exert pressure on Hamas to stop its repressive measures against Palestinian journalists. Abbas, meanwhile, issued yet another "presidential decree" outlawing all of Hamas's security forces, including the Executive Force and Izzadin Kassam, its military wing. The decree authorizes the PA security forces to detain anyone suspected of membership in these forces for a period of three to seven years. Abbas's latest decree does not carry any weight since Hamas does not have a security presence in the West Bank.