Ma'an News Agency
April 6, 2010 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas informed his former chief of staff Rafiq Al-Husseini Monday that an inquiry had cleared him of charges of nepotism, blackmail, and corruption, but that he was dismissed for "tainting" his office with personal mistakes.

The outcome of the inquiry was relayed to Al-Husseini in a letter, who released a statement saying detailing its contents. "I [Abbas] certify that your performance as a chief of staff was excellent and professional, and valuable accomplishments were achieved during your term," Al-Hussein said the letter read.

The official, caught on tape allegedly soliciting sex in return for political favors, applauded what he called Abbas’ commitment to transparency and accountability, referring to the president's decision to set up an inquiry into the allegations.

Al-Husseini said that despite being cleared of the charges, he was dismissed from his post for "committing personal mistakes" while serving in a public post.

The former official said he replied to Abbas' letter, thanking him for his decision to announce him clear of charges that he had misused his power while in public office. "I told your Excellency on 14 February that I wanted to resign out of care for transparency and impartial investigation," he wrote.

While the government inquiry ended, Al-Husseini said he would continue with legal procedures against "those who committed the disgraceful act which harmed me and my family’s reputation," referring to the taping of the former chief of staff in bed and calling out to a woman who alleged that he had requested sex for political favors.

The tape was leaked by a former intelligence officer with the Palestinian Authority, Fahmi Shabana, who said he informed PA officials about the tape years ago, but that no action was taken. In February, the tape was aired on Israel's Channel 10. During the outcry, Shabana said he had hundreds of other documents proving corruption, and threatened to release them to the public.

Later, however, Shabana said he had decided to release the documents to the PA instead, saying he trusted them to take the necessary actions.

Shabana, living in Jerusalem, has also been detained by Israeli officials in the past.

Al-Husseini said those responsible for the videotape "offered a great service to Israeli occupation when they succeeded to deprive me and other Jerusalemites of resisting Israeli plans to judaise Jerusalem and continue building settlements."


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