Jerusalem24 – The Israeli military prosecutor requested a 16 years prison sentence for Gaza aid worker Mohammad Al-Halabi at the Beersheba District Court yesterday.
Al-Halabi was convicted on several security charges, including “communicating with a foreign agent, affiliation with Hamas, transferring information, and possessing weapons” on 15 June after 171 court sessions were held over the course of six years.
44-year-old Mohammad Al-Halabi, a father of five and aid worker from the Gaza Strip employed by Australian NGO World Vision, was accused by Israel of transferring millions of dollars to Hamas and arrested in 2016.
Both Al-Halabi and World Vision have denied any wrongdoing since Al-Halabi’s arrest. An independent review and audit of the organization’s funding in 2017 also found no evidence that Al-Halabi supported Hamas or that any funds had been diverted.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Al-Halabi’s attorney informed his family that he had rejected a final plea bargain in which he would admit to only one of the charges in return for his release.
Al-Halabi has systematically refused to confess to any of the charges brought against him in exchange for his release.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society described the conviction and the military prosecutor’s request for a 16-year sentence as “political and vindictive,” and “a new slap in the face of the international legal system.”
The head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, Major General Qadri Abu Bakr, called the 16-year sentence request “a farce.”
The European Union stated on 15 June that Al-Halabi’s extended detention and conviction “contradicts international fair trial standards.”
Amnesty International has called on Israel to quash the conviction of what it said was “a deeply flawed trial.”
“Israeli authorities have utterly disregarded Mohammed al-Halabi’s allegations that he was tortured and ill-treated in detention. Yesterday’s [15 June] verdict is unsafe and unjust, and simply serves to highlight how the Israeli justice system is rigged against Palestinians,” Amnesty said in a statement on 16 June.
A hearing finalizing the sentencing for Al-Halabi is expected to take place next month.