Fourteen members of the Palestinian security forces will face a military trial after being formally accused Monday over the killing of prominent activist Nizar Banat, whose death sparked protests and global condemnation.
Banat – a leading critic of the Palestinian Authority and its 86-year old president Mahmud Abbas – died in June after security forces stormed his home in the flashpoint city of Hebron and dragged him away.
A post-mortem found he had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death.
Banat’s family has said it has no confidence in the PA’s capacity to deliver justice, and called for an international probe.
But the PA, notably Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, has promised accountability, and ordered a full investigation.
Palestinian security service spokesman Talal Dweikat said Monday that 14 of the service’s personnel have been formally accused of “beatings causing death, abuse of power and violations of security instructions.”
Under the Palestinian justice system in the West Bank – a territory occupied by Israel since 1967 – a Palestinian military court will conduct the trial.
Banat’s family last month stepped up their fight for international justice, seeking intervention from British police and the UN.
Nizar’s brother Ghasan Khalil Banat said “the so-called investigation that was carried out into his murder is an embarrassment and the PA should feel ashamed of it.”
Activists have staged a series of protests in the West Bank demanding justice for Banat.
The UN and the European Union last month raised alarm over a spate of arrests of activists by Palestinian security forces since Banat’s death, warning the PA appeared to be cracking down on basic freedoms across the West Bank.