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June 1998
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MER - Washington - 20 June:

Israeli prisons are notorious for their brutality and torture. If it weren't for the fact that the Arab regimes are oftentimes much worse when it comes to abusing and torturing their own citizens the protests against what Israel does to Palestinians would be much  more vociferous and much more constant.

The Israelis are also exceedingly arrogant and callous. This article from The Guardian newspaper describes what recently happened to a Scotsman, Alisdair Sinclair, after being arrested by the Israelis.



By David Sharrock in Jerusalem

The brother of a Scotsman who died in suspicious circumstances in an Israeli jail two months ago yesterday bitterly criticised the authorities for failing to reveal that they had removed and kept his heart.

Jimmy Sinclair, whose brother, Alisdair, was being held on suspicion of smuggling drugs when he died, said his family had been dealt "insult after insult" by Israel.

According to Israeli police, on April 15 Alisdair Sinclair hanged himself in a cell with his shoelaces after admitting to smuggling ecstasy into the country. But they have produced no evidence, the family says.

After complex negotiations to have his body repatriated to Scotland for burial, Mr Sinclair hired a criminal pathologist to re-examine the body.

He discovered that the heart was missing.

Mr Sinclair said that at first the Israelis refused to take him seriously, and then only grudgingly agreed to send the heart back to Scotland earlier this month.

Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute said the organ had been needed for further examination following an initial autopsy, contradicting a police statement to the Guardian at the time of the death that no autopsy had been carried out.

"We don't detail what we removed or how until we've completed the investigation," Yona Tanenbaum, an official at the institute, said.

"This is a misappropriation, if not a theft, and it shows incredible insensitivity, if not incompetence," Jimmy Sinclair said yesterday. "I've always regarded the Jews as religious people and I am just shattered that they can show so little feeling to the most important part of the body. They know it's where the spirit resides.

"They sent the body home with a box which they said were all his personal effects. It contained some women's clothes and torn sheets. We never got back Alisdair's hand-made boots, which he always wore, nor his wallet and passport.

"Now we have the heart, I am having DNA tests conducted to make sure it really is his heart. We have never received an apology for the anguish this has caused us."

A spokeswoman at the British embassy in Tel Aviv said diplomats were "concerned and disturbed" by the incident but regarded the matter as closed. She said the circumstances of Mr Sinclair's death were still under investigation.

Jimmy Sinclair believes his brother was throttled by his jailers as a warning to other couriers. ThePublic Committee against Torture in Israel has pointed out that detainees have their shoelaces removed before being placed in a cell and that several other people have died in similar circumstances in Israeli prisons.

From: The Guardian, 6/19/98.




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