Dirar Abu Sisi, technical director at Gaza's sole electricity plant, who was kidnapped by Israeli agents while on a train in Ukraine, has been interrogated about the missing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas.
Kidnapped Gazan engineer in court in Israel
PETAH TIKVAH // A Gazan engineer who was kidnapped in Ukraine appeared yesterday before an Israeli court as officials confirmed he was interrogated about Gilad Shalit, a missing Israeli soldier.
Dirar Abu Sisi, who disappeared while travelling on a train in Ukraine last month, appeared before Petah Tikvah Magistrates Court for a hearing at which the court extended his remand in custody and set Monday as the date for his indictment.
His lawyer, Smadar Ben Natan, said: "The court extended the remand of my client by five days and should indict him on Monday morning." .
As he arrived at the courthouse, Mr Abu Sisi said a few words in English, telling reporters, "I do not know anything about Gilad Shalit", before declaring his innoncence in Arabic. He also said he had been kidnapped in Ukraine.
Abu Sisi was referring to a report in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that said Israeli agents had kidnapped him because they believed he had valuable information about the whereabouts of Mr Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas in 2006.
"He has no information about Gilad Shalit," Ms Ben Natan said. "It is very probable that this is the reason why he was taken, but it was a complete mistake, as he has no such information."
Mr Sisi, 42, who is the technical director at Gaza's sole electricity plant, is being held at Shikma prison in Ashkelon. There is a gag order on details of his case.
Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said yesterday that although Mr Abu Sisi had no "direct" ties with Mr Shalit, he had "intimate information" about his situation, an apparent confirmation that the engineer had been interrogated about the missing soldier.
Commenting on the case during a live question-and-answer session on YouTube on Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said Mr Abu Sisi belonged to the Hamas movement and had provided his interrogators with "useful information".
"Abu Sisi is from Hamas. He is in custody in Israel, held legally in accordance with all the rules," Mr Netanyahu said. "I don't want to comment on a connection with Gilad Shalit or anything else. I can only say that he has divulged useful information."
Hamas captured Mr Shalit in a cross-border raid into Israel in 2006. He remains in captivity somewhere in Gaza, and Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for freeing him.
Mr Abu Sisi, father of six and the husband of a Ukrainian woman, disappeared while travelling between Kiev and the city of Kharkov on the night of February 18-19.
His wife, Veronica, said train attendants told her that her husband had been taken away by two men posing as officers of the Ukrainian secret service.