Detained Palestinian official falls to death in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- A Palestinian official being held for questioning at the military intelligence building in Ramallah fell to his death Sunday from the third floor in what security officials said was a suicide.

Palestinian human rights organizations demanded an investigation into the death, though they stopped short of accusing the Palestinian Authority of responsibility.

Osama Mansour, 49, had been held since mid-June on suspicion of corruption and abuse of position. He had been in charge of the land department at the attorney general’s office of the Palestinian Authority, responsible for making sure Palestinians did not sell land to Israelis. The Palestinian Authority does not allow such sales, which it treats as treason punishable in some cases with death.

Officials accused Mansour of using his post to buy land from Palestinians and then sell it to other Palestinians at a higher price while pocketing the difference.

Mansour, a former intelligence officer, was not kept in a cell and was allowed free movement inside the compound, said an official who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation. The death followed the decision to move Mansour to a jail after his case was turned over to the anti-corruption authority.

Palestinian Authority officials ordered an autopsy, though they maintained that there was no foul play in the death.

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-- Maher Abukhater

 
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