Palestinian Pathologist Suspects Foul Play in Bus Driver's Death, Despite Autopsy Results

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Palestinian mourners attending the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem on November 17, 2014. Credit: AFP

The Palestinian physician who participated in the autopsy of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged in a Jerusalem bus on Sunday asserts that he was probably murdered and did not commit suicide as Israel Police surmises.

The body of Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, a 32-year-old Egged driver, was found in a bus depot in the West Jerusalem area of Mt. Scopus late Sunday night. Clashes broke out in East Jerusalem overnight after the body was discovered.

The police based their assertion on a report from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. However, Dr. Saber al-Aloul told the Ma'an News Agency that Ramouni died by "hanging and strangulation."

He said the autopsy revealed that the man's first vertebra was not dislocated, which is usually the case in hangings by suicide. Moreover, he noted, signs of liver mortis – the settling of the blood after death – were found on the buttocks of the body rather than in the lower limbs, where they should be in the case of a suicide.

Attorney Mohammed Mahmoud, who represents the driver's family, received al-Aloul's autopsy report on Monday. According to him, though the document states no signs of violence were found on the body, the pathologist estimated that Ramouni was murdered and did not commit suicide. 

The attorney said al-Aloul proposed that the victim was sprayed with some anaesthetizing agent before he was killed, explaining the absence of markings on the body. Samples of tissue and fluids have been taken from the body, but the results are expected only in three months' time. 

Ramouni was supposed to begin his scheduled 57 route at 9:20 P.M. on Sunday night, and at 10 P.M. another driver found his body hanging in the center of the bus from a thin chord. Relatives of the deceased took photos of his body, which they claim shows signs of violence.

A colleague of Ramouni, Muatasem Fakeh, also disputed the findings of the forensic institute. "We saw signs of violence on his body," he told AFP.

"He was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone," he added.

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