Turkey delaying return of Zaki Mubarak’s body to hide signs of torture: family

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Family members of Zaki Mubarak, a Palestinian man who was detained on espionage charges and allegedly committed suicide in a Turkish prison, are calling into question why Turkish officials are delaying the repatriation of his body nearly a week after his death.

“The Turks have been delaying the return of Zaki’s body. They were supposed to return the body last Thursday, then they said on Friday. Since then they have not delivered the body,” Sanaa Mubarak, the Palestinian man’s sister, told Al Arabiya.

Last Monday, Turkey said that Mubarak, one of two Palestinian men arrested on alleged espionage charges in April, died while in custody and called his death a suicide. Mubarak’s family said they were skeptical of the suicide claims and called for an investigation into the matter. Turkish authorities are yet to release the body or provide any evidence that would point to a suicide.

Sanaa Mubarak has said that Turkish authorities informed the family that at least one of the deceased’s daughters must personally retrieve his body.

“We are afraid of sending his daughters there. They killed their father. Right now, we do not feel safe. We want the safety of his daughters guaranteed so that they can go and retrieve their father’s remains,” Sanaa added.

Mubarak’s family have also accused Turkish authorities of delaying the process of repatriating the body in order to conceal any traces of torture that may prove his murder.

“The Turks have been delaying the process to hide the signs of torture they inflicted on him and to hide their heinous crime. Are they waiting for the body to rot so that an autopsy would not show the reason of death? That it was not suicide but murder?” Sanaa asked.

The family of Samer Shaban, the other Palestinian man arrested alongside Mubarak in April, told Al Arabiya that he was in Turkey with his family in hopes of immigrating to Europe.

Abdullah Shaban, Samer’s uncle, said that his nephew earlier worked for the Palestinian police. Shaban left Gaza in 2007 because he and other police officers were wanted by Hamas for protesting the coup it carried out against the Palestinian government led by Fatah at the time. Shaban then left Gaza to Egypt and then to the UAE, where he remained as an employee of the Palestinian police force until he retired in 2018.