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A video message from Zakaria Zubeidi to the people who supported him during the long months that he spent in Palestinian Authority prison. Zakaria’s ordeal is not over yet since he has only been released on bail pending further court hearings but thanks to each and everyone who spoke out, the immediate threat to Zakaria’s life is averted and he is home with his family.
Below is a summary of the press conference that Zakaria held at The Freedom Theatre shortly after being released on bail.
Courtesy of Maan News
Zakaria al-Zubeidi, former commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and one of the founders of The Freedom Theatre, affirmed his innocence in relation to the charges leveled against him, stressing the impartiality of the Palestinian judiciary that will be judging him.
Zubeidi was speaking at a press conference he hosted at The Freedom Theatre, during which he described what he was subjected to during his recent five month long detention.
Zubeidi said: «The way in which I was arrested is a major human rights violation. I was arrested at the police station where I had gone to hand over a wanted man. While I was at the police station the security services – National Security – came and kidnapped me. They put a bag over my head and cuffed my hands behind my back. I didn’t know where I was, except that I was in Jericho.” Expressing surprise at the way he was arrested, Zubeidi added that he had not been handed an arrest warrant nor been given reasons for his arrest.
Zubeidi said that he was put in cells not suitable for human beings and he was tortured during the investigation period. He was treated in «ways and methods contrary to international law». Zubeidi added that «despite being abducted and tortured, I cooperated with them.»
He explained that he was arrested on charges of shooting at the house of the late Governor of Jenin, Qaddura Musa, stressing that these charges are baseless because of the absence of any evidence. Zakaria had a good personal and professional relationship with Qaddura Musa.
Zubeidi added that these were not the only charges leveled against him. He was also accused, among other things, of the murder of Palestinian director Juliano Mer Khamis. “Other charges were brought against me while I was in prison, such as the murder of Colonel Hisham al-Rukh.” Zubaidi questioned the reasons for the “mistakes” committed by the security services, who made charges regarding events that unfolded while Zubeidi was in prison.
Zubeidi accused the security services of manipulating the law in order to extend the period of detention. «The first extension of my detention was based on charges of killing Juliano and the last extension was in relation to the murder of Al-Rukh. The court hearings were legal, however extending the detention on charges that have nothing to do with me is not legal.”
Zubeidi says he was subjected to random accusations, including being responsible for the assassination of Imad Mughniye, the Hezbollah leader who was killed in Syria, as well as collaborating with the occupation and helping the Israeli secret service kill people active in the Intifada such as Alaa al-Sabbagh, in addition to charges of illegally owning millions of dollars. «The last charges were aiming to tarnish my reputation as a militant.»
Zubeidi defended himself by saying that during the second Intifada, the al-Aqsa Intifada, he had worked against the occupation publicly, «because resistance is a Palestinian right. When told to do so by a political decision I put down my weapons out of commitment to that political decision. I moved on to cultural work because we can resist through culture and theatre and by these means I can deliver the message of the Palestinian people who suffer under the yoke of Israeli occupation.»
Zubeidi stated his belief in the fairness of the Palestinian judiciary. His message to the judges was that this press conference is constructive criticism to avoid future mistakes and injustices. He added that his only weapon during his stay in prison was going on hunger strike.
Zubeidi sent a message to the Palestinian judiciary, saying, «My case is in your hands. If you find any violation of the law, I am under the law and ready for any sentence handed me by the judiciary, but I am innocent of all charges facing me.
He also questioned the work of the security services. «The security services managed to capture the people who shot at the house of the late Qaddura Musa in two days, and captured the killers of Colonel Hisham al-Rukh within eight days, but how come they have not proceeded to arrest the killers of Juliano Khamis although the incident took place over a year ago?»
Zubeidi thanked all the people who stood by his side during his ordeal over the past five months, in particular the staff of The Freedom Theatre and the international supporters who called on the Palestinian Authority to release him. He also thanked the three thousand people who signed a petition that was sent to President Mahmoud Abbas. He noted that those who stood by his side had more trust in him and knew him better than those who arrested him and leveled these groundless charges against him.