Wednesday, January 27, 1999 15:39
(IsraelWire-1/27-15:39 -IST) "The use of 10 Lebanese prisoners as 'bargaining chips' must come to an end, Amnesty International said, calling on Israel's Supreme Court to reverse its November 1997 ruling that it was legal to hold them as hostages.
'This is the last chance for the Supreme Court to reject its decision, unprecedented in the world, that it is legal for a state to engage in hostage-taking,' Amnesty International said.
'Some of these men are being held beyond their prison terms, in flagrant violation of international law. For example, Bilal 'Abd al-Husayn Dakrub has been held for over ten years beyond his release date,' the organization continued.
The Israeli government is holding 21 Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the release of, or information on, Israeli soldiers who are listed as missing in action in Lebanon. On 27th of January a nine-judge panel of Israel's Supreme Court will rehear an appeal from 10 of these detainees against their continued detention. The hearing will take place behind closed doors.
Bilal 'Abd al-Husayn Dakrub, 'Ali Husayn 'Ammar, Ahmad Muhsen 'Ammar, Kamal Muhammad Rizq, Hasan Sadr al-Din Hijazi, 'Abd al-Hasan Hasan Surur, 'Abbas Hasan Surur, Ahmad Hasan Surur, Yusef Ya'qub Surur and Husayn Fahad Daqduq were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment on various charges by Israeli military courts in the 1980s.
The 10 detainees have been held in near-complete isolation since 1996, only being granted access to their lawyer and delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In 1997 Ahmad Muhsen Ammar wrote to an Amnesty International group: 'We have been removed from the world. We cannot see our families ... or any organization which can help us. We are only able to see people from the Red Cross. When I received a photo of my brothers and sisters I didn't recognize them as they had all grown. The child had become a young man, and the young man had aged and had white hair. ... The civil war ,in Lebanon, has finished and many big changes have taken place. It is now so different I feel I don?t know my country any more - only the country of the past. I was only 19 when I went into prison and now I am 30.' "