A top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas testified on Feb. 8 in the trial of Mohammed Dahlan, a former powerful politician in the Middle East.
Dahlan, who was expelled from the political party, Fatah, was once in charge of security. He now lives in the United Arab Emirates and has yet to appear in court.
While in court on Feb. 8, Hussein al-Araj, the head of President Abbas’ office, stated he has yet to read or witness any documentation that states the justification of how Dahlan used the millions of dollars.
Dahlan’s defense attorneys believed that Araj’s testimony was invalid, and called on Abbas to take the stand himself.
Sevag Torossian, the lead defense attorney on Dahlan’s team, said, “In his testimony, Araj said he didn’t see or hear anything (relating to Dahlan’s use of funds) so now I want to hear Abbas’s testimony because apparently he is the only one who would know what happened.”
Because Dahlan is being tried in absentia, his legal team is not allowed access to the indictment or to any court files pertaining to the trial or to cross-examine any witnesses the prosecution brings in.
During his time in politics, Dahlan was considered one of the most powerful and influential people in the Middle East. He was the head of security in the Gaza Strip, a volatile area, and his opposition to the terrorist group Hamas.
In 2007, Hamas defeated many of Dahlan’s forces, causing him embarrassment and the loss of power.
He was elected to Fatah’s ruling body in 2009, making a grand return to politics. The comeback was short-lived, as he was exiled from Fatah just two years later on allegations of murder and financial corruption.