Family of Palestinian dead in Turkish jail to file suit with international court

“They killed him to cover up the crime they had committed against him," said Zakaria Mubarak, the younger brother of Zaki Mubarak
Sunday 09/06/2019
The daughter (L) and son of Zaki Mubarak hold his pictures during an interview in central Gaza Strip, last April. (AFP)
Awaiting justice. The daughter (L) and son of Zaki Mubarak hold his pictures during an interview in central Gaza Strip, last April. (AFP)

CAIRO - A relative of a Palestinian man declared dead in a Turkish jail in April said he will file a lawsuit against Turkish authorities in international courts.

Zakaria Mubarak, the younger brother of Zaki Mubarak, a Palestinian businessman who disappeared in Istanbul in April and was declared dead at a jail there, said his brother was killed by Turkish authorities.

“They killed him to cover up the crime they had committed against him,” Zakaria Mubarak said.

Zaki Mubarak, a former explosives department officer in the Gaza Strip, travelled to Istanbul April 1 to meet Samer Shaaban, an old friend, and explore business opportunities in Turkey.

He owned a food export and import company in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he lived with his Bulgarian wife and three children. Zaki Mubarak had said he dreamed of establishing a branch of his company, ZMH, in Turkey and Shaaban had promised to help him do this.

Turkish authorities said Mubarak was found dead April 28 in his jail cell and claimed that he had hanged himself. However, his family, including his six children and former wife in Gaza, never believed that version of the story.

They said Turkish authorities did not present evidence that Mubarak had committed suicide. Zakaria Mubarak said a medical team commissioned by the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo said Zaki Mubarak’s body was mutilated and bruised.

“This proves that he was subjected to the most merciless of torture at the Turkish jail,” Zakaria Mubarak said. “This is a crime that should never go unpunished.”

Zaki Mubarak went missing three days after arriving in Istanbul, along with Shaaban. On April 19, Turkish authorities said Mubarak had been arrested and accused of spying for the United Arab Emirates. His family denied the allegation.

His Egyptian lawyer, Sharif Ghanem, said Mubarak had not been interrogated by Turkish authorities, who only filed a report to the prosecution in which they pressed the charge against him.

Mubarak was referred to the prosecution a few days after his declared arrest and talked on the phone with his family. He reportedly told his brother that he had been tortured.

“He told me that Turkey was far worse than he had ever imagined,” Zakaria Mubarak said.

Zaki Mubarak was scheduled to appear in court April 30. A lawyer commissioned by the Turkish government to press the charge against him and a lawyer hired by his brother said they expected him to be acquitted because of a lack of evidence. However, he was declared dead two days before the court appearance.

“They had to kill him because he would have proved Turkish authorities lying, if he had been proven innocent by the court,” Zakaria Mubarak said.

Zakaria Mubarak and Zaki Mubarak’s Bulgarian wife said they tried to have the body flown to Cairo where it was examined by the Palestinian Embassy-commissioned team. Zakaria Mubarak filed a request to the Egyptian Forensic Authority to examine the body and issue a certified report about the cause of death.

Forensic Authority experts examined the body May 23, a day after it arrived in Cairo. A day later, they said they had completed the examination but refused to release details. Authority Director Souad Abdel Ghaffar said a report on Zaki Mubarak would be referred to the Egyptian Ministry of Justice.

Zakaria Mubarak said he will include the report in documents he, an Egyptian lawyer and a French lawyer who volunteered to take the case will file with the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court against Turkey.

“Turkish authorities have to learn that they cannot get away with killing an innocent man,” Mubarak said.

“Zaki is not the kind of person who will kill himself,” Zakaria Mubarak said. “He was God-fearing and cannot end his life, regardless of any pressures he was subjected to.”