Relatives of Nazir Banat said they still had not received a document with an official cause of death and said the Palestinian Authority had made efforts to settle the matter out of court.
“The behavior of the Palestinian Authority is so far criminal behavior, covering up the crime,” Nazir’s brother Ghassan Banat told reporters.
Nazir Banat was an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority who called on Western countries to stop providing aid to the PA due to human rights violations and rising authoritarianism.
in a series of posts and live videos Facebook Banat had criticized the authority’s close security coordination with Israel, which was seen by many Palestinians as a betrayal and its corruption. He also targeted the President Mahmood Abbas In April to cancel what would be the first Palestinian election in 15 years. Banat was the candidate on the opposition slate.
His family has said that security forces barged into Banat’s bedroom while he was sleeping, thrashing him, leaving him with bloody wounds on his head before evicting him from the house. He died shortly after being in custody.
His death has prompted weeks of protests. On July 5, security forces arrested at least six activists while protesting outside the Palestinian Authority headquarters. Several eyewitnesses said that the police used pepper spray and beat up the protesters with sticks.
The Palestinian Authority, seen as an important partner of the US and other Western countries, has set up an investigation into Banat’s death. His brother said that weeks later, the family had heard little from the government.
”Till date, we have failed to get the death certificate. How can you have a citizen who dies without being issued a death certificate? Ghassan Banat said.
Accompanied by two of the family’s lawyers, the brother defies attempts by the authority to send the tribal elders in the family in hopes of closing the case and preventing it from reaching the courts.
“This file will not be resolved or closed by elders or tribal methods,” he said. “Nizar’s file is a political murder and will remain open until justice is served, even if it takes 1,000 years.”
The Palestinian Authority is widely seen as corrupt and authoritarian, with a recent poll last month showing that support for Abbas, who took power in 2005 for a four-year term, waned.
Abbas faced mounting pressure after the election was cancelled, when it appeared his Fatah party would face a crushing defeat against rival Hamas terrorist group.
Last month, Palestinian security forces arrested prominent activist and critic Issa Amro after she criticized recent arrests on Facebook.
Jeffrey reported from Jerusalem.