Last updated: 18 April, 2013

Israeli president pardons sick Palestinian prisoner

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday pardoned a Palestinian prisoner who had carried out two long-term hunger strikes, citing concerns over his health, his office said.

“Peres accepted the recommendation of the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, in coordination with the security services, and signed the release of Mohammed Kamal al-Taj,” a statement said.

“The decision to release him was taken on humanitarian grounds as the prisoner was ill with a serious medical condition,” it added.

Taj had served almost 10 years of a 14-year sentence, the president’s office said.

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group the Prisoners Club said Taj was taken to hospital in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Taj, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, held two separate hunger strikes alongside other inmates in 2012, one lasting 67 days and the other 45 days, according to NGOs.

The death from cancer of a Palestinian prisoner held by Israel provoked widespread demonstrations and violence across the West Bank this month, including the killing of two Palestinian teenagers by Israeli troops.