Israel charges Gaza engineer as rocket mastermind

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 04, 2011 9:52 AM
Israel charges Gaza engineer as rocket mastermind

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) - Israel Monday charged a detained Palestinian engineer with hundreds of counts of attempted murder, accusing him of developing missiles that the Islamist group Hamas fired from Gaza against Israelis.

Dirar Abu Sisi, a director of the Gaza Strip's sole power station, says he was kidnapped during a visit to Ukraine in February and transferred secretly to Israel.

A court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba handed down a 15-page indictment, revealing the allegations at the heart of the mysterious case.

"Abu Sisi was engaged in the development of missiles to be launched by Hamas, including increasing their range and ability to pierce steel so as to penetrate armored vehicles and thus strike at soldiers," a summary of the indictment said.

"Abu Sisi is accused of nine charges regarding activity in a terrorist organization, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and production of weaponry offenses," it added.

Abu Sisi denies wrongdoing and Hamas has said he was not a member of their organization. Sisi is married to a Ukrainian and his relatives say he went to Ukraine to arrange residency there for himself and his family.

Ukraine says Abu Sisi's disappearance is under investigation. Israel has not provided details on how the Palestinian came into its custody, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week it was a "legal arrest."

Monday's indictment names a Ukrainian professor at the Kharkov Military Engineering Academy as Abu Sisi's mentor. It said "Konstantin Petrovich" was an expert in Scud missile control systems.

"Abu Sisi acquired extensive knowledge in missile development, control systems, propulsion and stabilization. Parallel to his work as an engineer for the Gaza electric company, Abu Sisi secretly joined Hamas," the summary added.

(Writing by Ori Lewis and Dan Williams; Editing by Crispian Balmer)