Mother of Franco-Palestinian prisoner accuses Paris of bias

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The mother of a French-Palestinian prisoner being held in an Israeli jail, has attacked the French authorities for not working to secure his freedom as they did for soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed on October 18.

Speaking to AFP, Denise Hamuri, whose 26-year-old son Salah was jailed in 2005 on charges of plotting to kill an Israeli rabbi, accused the French government of giving the Shalit case preferential treatment.

"There was always a double standard in its treatment of the two cases," she told AFP in an interview just days after the release of Shalit, a French-Israeli national who spent more than five years in Hamas captivity.

France had long pushed for Shalit's release, which was personally welcomed by President Nicolas Sarkozy in a speech in which he also expressed a desire to see Hamuri released.

"It was the first time, on October 18, that Sarkozy said his name publicly," Hamuri told AFP.

"We asked him to intervene long before that but he never did."

To secure Shalit's freedom, Israel released 477 prisoners and Sarkozy said he hoped Hamuri would be freed in the coming weeks when another 550 prisoners are to be freed in order to complete the deal which Israel struck with the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas.

But, with Hamuri's six-year sentence due to end on November 28, the gesture was empty, his mother said.

In June, France's top diplomat Alain Juppe had held a rare meeting with Hamuri's parents at a Jerusalem hotel in the first contact they had had with any French officials since they met his predecessor Bernard Kouchner in February 2008.

Hamuri was arrested in March 2005 on charges of conspiring with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to assassinate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

He has always maintained his innocence.

© 2011 AFP

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