Palestinian engineer accused of missile murder plot

Power station chief denies trying to develop weapons to kill hundreds of Israelis

Reuters in Beersheba  | guardian.co.uk, Monday 4 April 2011 16.14 BST

    Dirar Abu Sisi Dirar Abu Sisi has been accused of developing rockets for Hamas. Photograph: Tsafrir Abayov/AP

    A Palestinian engineer has been charged with hundreds of counts of attempted murder and accused 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, said 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 case. Abu Sisi denies wrongdoing and Hamas has said he was not a member of their organisation.

    “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 armoured vehicles and thus strike at soldiers,” a summary of the indictment said.

    “Abu Sisi is accused of nine charges regarding activity in a terrorist organisation, hundreds of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and production of weaponry offences,” it added.

    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 the 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 stabilisation. Parallel to his work as an engineer for the Gaza electric company, Abu Sisi secretly joined Hamas,” the summary added.

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