14th February 2018, www.inminds.com
On Thursday 15 February 2018, Inminds humans rights group will hold an emergency vigil outside the Austrian Embassy in London to demand justice and freedom for Palestinian former child prisoner, now young father, Abdel Karim Abu Habel who has been tortured and imprisoned in Austria at the behest of Israel. The Austrian Court of Appeal is expected to pass its verdict on Abu Habel's appeal on Friday 16th February 2018.
Abu Habel is from the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. At age 14 he was abducted by the Israeli occupation forces and tortured. After they forced a false confession out of him of being a member of Hamas, they sentenced him to 9 years imprisonment, stealing his childhood. He was finally released in 2013, having completed his full sentence.
During Israel's attack on Gaza in 2014 they targeted Abu Habel, bombing his house and sending him a message that they will kill him. Abu Habel left besieged Gaza in 2015, working his way through Turkey and Greece he arrived in Austria on a valid visa in April 2016. There he applied for political asylum. Instead of granting him asylum, which they are legally obliged to do in such cases, the Austrian authorities, at the behest of Israel, arrested Abu Habel in July 2016.
Working hand in hand with Israel, the Austrian authorities allowed Israeli interrogators to brutally torture Abu Habel on Austrian soil for 9 months. In a letter he managed to later smuggle out Abu Habel describes the torture:
"I saw death for nine months of interrogation, I did not see the sun or daylight, I was beaten and tortured. Even the doctor who came to treat my wounds, because of the severity of the torture, joined in my beating and at the end they claimed that I assaulted the doctor. At the beginning, the interrogators denied that they were from the Mossad intelligence service. However I noticed the presence of the Israeli star and then an officer admitted they were Israelis." On one occasion they injected him with an unknown substance which caused the colour of his skin to change - especially his hands which he described in his letter as 'still burning". He says "I was taken to the hospital several times because of the harsh treatment during interrogations". When Abu Habel would not break they threatened to kill his wife in Gaza who was pregnant at the time with his second child.
He was not allowed to contact his family or have a lawyer of his choice. In the end they charged him, again of being a member of Hamas and for social media messages. On 24th July 2017 they sentenced Abu Habel to life imprisonment - on practically the same charges he had already served 9 years for. Abu Habel has appealed this miscarriage of justice and the appeal verdict is expected on 16th February 2018.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali said "This is a shocking injustice that a European state has perpetrated on its most vulnerable resident on behalf of Israel. When Austria invites Israeli thugs to torture, for 9 months, a young Palestinian father who has entered Austria legally and respected all its laws, breaking none of them, it calls into question Austria's sovereignty. It's a shameful mockery of Austria's justice system when it hands down a life sentence to a victim of Israeli terror on the say so of Israel, for charges which he has already served his time in an Israeli dungeon. From the age of 14 Abdel Karim Abu Habel has spent most of his life in an Israeli dungeon, he has only seen 3 years of freedom during which Israel bombed his house trying to kill him, and now he is languishing in an Austrian prison for no crime at Israel's bidding. We are here to demand Austria's Court of Appeal reassert Austria's sovereignty by rejecting Israeli interference in its justice system and free Abdel Karim Abu Habel."
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Inminds Palestinian Prisoners Campaign