Saturday, March 13, 2010

Qaraqe: Israel to deport Ukrainian prisoner

Bethlehem – Ma'an – The Israeli Prison Service in Hasharon prison informed a Ukrainian detainee that she will be deported within a month, Minister of Prisoners Affairs Issa Qaraqe said Wednesday.

Irena Sarahna, was born in the Ukraine and is married Ibrahim Sarahna from the Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. Her husband is serving a concurrent sentence of six life terms plus 45 years.

The couple was detained in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, charged with transporting a Palestinian who detonated a bomb strapped to his chest in Rishon Letzion in 2002. The explosion killed two Israelis and injured 50.

The Israeli intelligence service Shabak, also known as the Shin Bet, claimed both suspects admitted that they transferred Issa Bdair from West Bank city of Beit Jala, as well as another Palestinian girl, from Beit Sahour, both in Bethlehem, who intended to undertake another operation.

Irena was initially sentenced to three years and was given the option of either being deported back to the Ukraine or serving a jail sentence. Her lawyers appealed but lost the case and her sentence was extended to 20 years.

The couple has two daughters, Ghazala, seven, who lives with her grandparents in Duheisha, and nine-year-old Jasmin, who lives in Russia with her maternal grandmother.

The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs had earlier appealed to the Israeli authorities to stay Irena’s deportation. Irena also appealed to the Israeli authorities to allow her to meet her husband after such visits were banned. Israeli law allows jailed couples to meet once every four months.

Qaraqe described the decision to deport Sarahna as "dangerous and tyrannical," violating human rights and international law.