Last updated: 19 February, 2013

Gazan court cuts sentence in Italian murder case

A Gaza military court on Tuesday accepted the appeal by two militants convicted last year of the kidnap and murder of an Italian national, reducing their sentences from life to 15 years.

“The High Military Court has accepted the appeal presented by (Mahmud) al-Salfiti and (Tamer) al-Husasna to reduce their sentence from hard labour and life, to 15 years,” said the judge in a brief hearing.

The two men, both former police officers, were convicted in September 2012 for the kidnap and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni and sentenced to life imprisonment.

They filed an appeal asking for the murder conviction to be dropped.

“We asked in our appeal for the conviction for murder and abduction to be dropped to only abduction,” their lawyer Mohammed Zarqut told AFP.

It was not immediately clear whether the court had agreed to drop the murder charge as requested in the appeal.

Arrigoni, 36, a long-time member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was kidnapped on April 14, 2011.

In a video, a previously-unknown Salafist group threatened to kill him within 30 hours if Gaza’s Hamas rulers failed to free a group of jihadist prisoners.

But the security forces found his body shortly afterwards in an abandoned house in northern Gaza.

Two other men were also convicted of involvement in the case, with Khadr Faruk Jerim, also a former policeman, receiving 10 years for kidnapping while Amer Abu Ghola was jailed for a year for providing the house in which Arrigoni was found hanged.

All four were members of a radical Salafist group.