Kafah Zaboun
Asharq Alawsat
December 12, 2012 - 1:00am

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat - Rafik Natsheh, head of the Palestinian anti-corruption body, has stated that his organization will now resume its pursuit of corrupt government figures who have fled abroad. Given that Palestine has obtained non-member observer status at the United Nations, the anti-corruption body has the right to pursue corrupt fugitives who have court judgments issued against them.

Palestine’s observer status has revived the hopes of the anti-corruption body, which previously encountered difficulties in pursuing wanted fugitives after Arab and international countries, as well as Interpol, refused to hand over the accused Palestinian officials.

Natsheh said: “Now that the UN has recognized the Palestinian state we will pursue corrupt officials who have fled abroad”. He added “In the past we encountered difficulties in bringing these fugitives to justice, but now the situation is different. Now Palestine has become a member of the international police and it is just a matter of time before we repatriate those corrupt individuals”.

The authorities are pursuing many officials, the most notable of which so far is Muhammad Rashid, adviser to the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Rashid was tried several months ago in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor, in addition to a fine of US$ 15 million. He rejects the charges against him and in turn has launched various accusations at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas among others.

In addition to Rashid, the authorities want Walid Abdul Rahman Rashid Najab, Khalid Abdul Ghani Khalid, Khaled al-Farra and Harbi Sarsur to be extradited on embezzlement charges.

An investigation is currently being conducted into dozens of other officials, in cases worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Among those currently being investigated by the anti-corruption body are Muhammad Rashid and former leader of the Fatah movement Mohammed Dahlan. Natsheh revealed that “Rashid’s file is one of the largest. As for Dahlan, he is yet to be charged. In the event of this, the charges will be submitted to a court as in all other cases”.

In an interview with a Palestinian television station, Natsheh also touched upon Rashid’s recent accusations directed towards President Abbas. He said “after a court ruling was issued against a particular corrupt individual, he launched a smear campaign against the President and key figures in the Palestinian Authority in an attempt to deflect blame away from himself. He launched accusations and endless lies against everyone, and referred to President Abbas in a slanderous manner. He claimed that the President owns palaces in Ramallah and accused me of overlooking this fact. So I conducted some research and discovered that the President has lived in an apartment in Ramallah ever since he returned to the homeland, the same apartment he lives in now as President of the state of Palestine”. He added “we could not find any trace of these alleged palaces, and this is just one example of the lies that have been promoted”.


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