The family of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, who died while in Palestinian Authority custody last week, said on Monday that they hold Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh responsible for his death.
Banat was one of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's most prominent critics. He died after being arrested by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.
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Banat’s relatives also expressed a complete lack of trust in the committee set up by the Palestinian Authority to investigate the circumstances leading to the activist's death, demanding an independent inquiry. Shtayyeh has previously said that those responsible for Banat’s death would be prosecuted.
Speaking at a press conference, Banat’s father, Khalil, said that as far as the family was concerned, no arrests had been made yet. The father claimed that Palestinian security forces acted as a criminal organization, attempting to hide evidence as well as Banat’s body.
Furthermore, Khalil argued that the commander of the Palestinian security forces in Hebron, Ziad Hab-Arih, his wife and the security forces who arrested Banat are responsible for his death.
Banat’s family said Palestinian Authority forces broke into his house in the city in the early hours of Thursday last week and hit him repeatedly with a metal rod before arresting him.
Human rights groups said that his autopsy showed that he suffocated from blood in his lungs after being beaten by security forces. One of the doctors who took part in the autopsy also revealed that Banat suffered injuries to all parts of his body. The doctor said the findings raised suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.
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On Friday, thousands demonstrated against President Abbas and the PA in Hebron and Ramallah, with demonstrators calling for Abbas to resign.
Banat, a former member of the Fatah movement, has been repeatedly arrested by the Palestinian Authority for his sharp criticism of its leadership in Facebook posts and videos. He accused them of corruption, as well as abandoning and profiteering off of Palestinian national interests in return for personal benefit and wealth.