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Palestinian Authority arrests main witness in trial over killing of PA critic

Palestinians hold posters depicting human rights activist Nizar Banat during a protest triggered by his violent arrest and death in the custody of Palestinian Authority security forces, in his hometown of Hebron in the West Bank, on June 27, 2021. (Mosab Shawer/AFP)
Palestinians hold posters depicting human rights activist Nizar Banat during a protest triggered by his violent arrest and death in the custody of Palestinian Authority security forces, in his hometown of Hebron in the West Bank, on June 27, 2021. (Mosab Shawer/AFP)

Palestinian Authority security forces this morning arrested the main witness in the trial of 14 PA officers over the killing of anti-PA activist Nizar Banat, his family says.

Hussein Banat was one of two witnesses to the night raid by PA security forces that saw his brother Nizar, a well-known critic of Ramallah’s leadership, die in their custody. His death drew international condemnation and sparked rare protests against the PA leadership by West Bank Palestinians.

A source close to the Banat family tells The Times of Israel that they believe the arrest is a means to pressure them into silence.

Reached by telephone, the Hebron branch of the PA security forces declines to comment. A spokesperson for the PA security forces has not responded to several phone calls.

The Palestinian security officers accused of killing Banat were arraigned today at a Ramallah military court. The charge sheet describes a chilling scene: after bursting into Banat’s south Hebron hideout in the dead of night, the officers viciously beat him with iron rods before dragging him away.

According to Banat’s death certificate, the beating sent him into traumatic shock. He ultimately died of acute cardiac arrest that same morning.

No senior Palestinian intelligence officials or politicians have been charged in the case. The Banat family has denounced the trial as a sham.

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