HAMAS ‘RESPECTS’ TUTU APPEAL FOR PRISONER RELEASE

Tutu Pleads With Hamas Over Palestinian

4:17pm UK, Friday April 15, 2011

Dominic Waghorn, SKY NEWS Middle East correspondent

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, to release a Palestinian man on the second anniversary of his incarceration for allegedly spying for Israel.

Mohamed Abu Muailek: photo by World News & Features

The former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel peace prize winner has written a personal letter, seen by Sky News, to leader Ismail Haniya calling on Hamas to accept Mohamed Abu Muailek‘s innocence and release him.

Mr Abu Muailek was a member of a Palestinian rocket firing squad who had a radical change of heart.

In an interview with a British film-maker, he expressed opposition to firing rockets into Israel, saying it only led to more destruction being meted out to Palestinians.

Hamas arrested Abu Muailek – and the film-maker, Paul Martin, was also detained when he went to Gaza last year to testify in his military trial.

Martin was never charged, but instead was released AFTER 26 days. Abu Muailek is still in jail.

In its first comments on the case, Hamas gave a phone interview to Sky News.

Hamas spokesman Dr Ahmed Yusuf said the intervention by Dr Tutu would be taken seriously.

“We do believe,” he said, “that Desmond Tutu is a very honourable person who we respect and any effort he will exert will be respected.”

Dr Yusuf says the case has taken a long time to process but is about to come to a conclusion.

“God willing in a month or two the verdict of the court will be known.”

But he warned there is serious evidence against Abu Muailek, claiming he has confessed to collaborating with Israel.

His family suspect he was violently coerced into signing a document whose contents he was unaware of.

They adamantly deny allegations he is a collaborator.

Hamas has never answered the central weakness in its case against Abu Muailek: that were he a spy, he would be unlikely to draw attention to himself by being interviewed by foreigners and openly criticising Gaza’s authorities.

Hamas has imprisoned a number of Palestinians for allegedly spying for Israel and executed at least two of them.

Paul Martin told Sky News: “It is encouraging to hear a top Hamas official seemingly respecting Archbishop Tutu’s call for Mohamed’s release.

“The Archbishop says Mohamed is innocent and so does everyone involved with the case.”

Original SKY NEWS link: http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/15972943

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