Police Show Israeli Arab Lawmaker Evidence He Smuggled Phones to Prisoners

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Joint List MK Basel Ghattas after police questioning, December 20, 2016.
Joint List MK Basel Ghattas after police questioning, December 20, 2016.Credit: Nir Keidar

The police said on Tuesday the ball is in the court of the attorney general and the Knesset after questioning Joint List MK Basel Ghattas about suspicions he smuggled mobile phones to Palestinian prison inmates.

Despite the seriousness of the alleged offense and the solid evidence they had, the questioning of Ghattas had been relatively brief, police said. Ghattas was shown some of the evidence, which included tapes and video clips documenting the alleged passing of the mobile phones.

It is now up to the state attorney, Avichai Mendelblit and the Knesset to decide whether to lift Ghattas’ immunity for more thorought questioning.

The Israeli Arab lawmaker arrived Tuesday morning to the Lahav 443 national investigations unit. Balad partymates MK Jamal Zahalka and MK Haneen Zoabi also came to the station.

The Israel Prison Services said they had received information that Ghattas was planning to smuggle mobile phones into the Keziot Prison in the Negev for security prisoners. After he visited the prison, personnel searched several inmates who had been in touch with Ghattas and found 12 mobile phones.

Ghattas’ office said they were surprised by reports of an investigation concerning mobile phones. He had not visited security prisoners for two months before Sunday, when he made his first call to Ketziot in a while, his office said. The idea of summoning the lawmaker for questioning arose a few days ago, unconnected to Sunday’s visit, his office’s statement said.

Ghattas said he would appear for the investigation. He accused police of being “determined to continue the political persecution of the members and leaders of Balad and this entire conduct testifies to the policy of political revenge that does not frighten us and will not frighten us in the future, either.”

“I have nothing to hide, I will continue to represent the Arab public through legitimate political activity,” Ghattas said.

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