An appeals court in Gaza convicted four Palestinian men in their early 20s to jail for the kidnapping and murder of a pro-Palestinian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian man, last year.
The Ma'an News Agency, a Palestinian news outlet, reported that two of the men, Mahmoud Salfiti, 23, and Tamer Hasasna, 25, were sentenced to life imprisonment plus 10 years for kidnapping and murder. Khader Ajram, 26, was given 10 years for kidnapping. The fourth man, Amer Abu Ghula, who fled Gaza after Arrigoni's death, was sentenced in absentia to 12 months in jail for harboring a fugitive.
The Hamas-run court said that the three men present during the abduction of Arrigoni were all members of the Salafist terrorist group Tawhid wal-Jihad, a rival group to Hamas. When the sentences were handed down, the three men smiled, Ma'an said, and one of their relatives muttered, "They will find justice with God and not with this court."
Arrigoni, called "Vik" by his friends, was a longtime member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, and participated in the 2008 "Free Gaza" mission aimed at breaking up the Israeli blockade. He was also arrested in November 2008 for volunteering to act as a human shield for Palestinian fishermen, during which time he was injured by an Israeli water cannon.
He ran a blog called "Guerilla Radio" about life in Gaza and contributed to the Italian outlet Radio Popolare. He called Zionism an "abominable, racist, and colonial movement ... it's in the interest of all that it be swept away."
Arrigoni was abducted on April 14, 2011 while working in Gaza by Tawhid wal-Jihad. They released a YouTube video showing the bloodied and blindfolded Italian, and announced their intent kill Arrigoni unless Hamas released the group's leader, Hesham al-Sa'eedni, by 5 pm the next day, along with other of their supporters. Arrigoni's body was found hanged when Hamas stormed the house where he was being held, several hours before the deadline.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.