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MER - Occupied Palestine - 26 January:

    While the "Palestinian Legislative Council" watches in stunning impotence, the "Palestinian Authority" of Yasser Arafat is systematically intimidating the Palestinian judiciary, dismissing even the most senior of judges if they don't do as told.
    Last week MER featured detailed information about the "Police-State" tactics being used by the PA throughout the now doubly-occupied territories.  This report from the Palestinian organization known as LAW outlines how Arafat used the cover of his recent visit to Paris and Washington to fire the most senior Palestinian judge whose offices have subsequently been taken over.


23 January 1998

    Qusai Al Abadleh, the Palestinian Chief Justice and President of the Palestinian High Court, was forced to retire by the Palestinian Authority on Monday 19 January 1998.  The head of the General Personnel Council of the PA Civil Service, Mohammed Abu Shari'a, wrote a letter to Mr. Abadleh informing him of his forced retirement. The letter is regarded as a dismissal and appears to be connected to criticisms made by Chief Justice Abadleh of Minister of Justice Freih Abu Medein in a newspaper interview. This dismissal is unlawful under Palestinian law. The Palestinian Authority, in 1996, similarly dismissed a senior judge for ruling against the Palestinian Authority in a landmark human rights case.

    On Saturday 17 January 1998, al Risala newspaper published its interview with Chief Justice Qusai Abadleh. In the interview, Mr. Abadleh stated that Minister of Justice Freih Abu Meiden had interfered with the work of the judiciary and in judicial procedures. Mr. Abadleh took the view that the Minister of Justice appeared intent on manipulating and destroying the foundation of the Palestinian judicial system.

    According to Palestinian law, judges receive lifetime appointments and can only be dismissed under specific circumstances...

    The letter was delivered to the Chief Justice's home while he was away in Egypt...  The Attorney General, Fayez Abu Rahmeh, commented that the decision to remove Mr. Abadleh was rash and such action should not be permitted. The Attorney General echoed the Chief Justice Abadleh's original criticism of interference by the Ministry of Justice.

    Previously, on 27 August 1996, the Chief Justice of the Ramallah Appellate Court and of the Palestinian Supreme Court Amin Abdel Sala'am was also forced to retire.  Justice Amin Abdel Sala'am was responsible for the hearing of the Bir Zeit students case, in which the High Court ruled that the students, who had been held without charge or trial since the previous March in violation of Palestinian
law, be released immediately...

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