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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 17:10 GMT
PLO official 'abducted' in Egypt
Palestinian policeman in the Gaza Strip
Mr al-Ghussein was reportedly taken to Gaza
A former top PLO official's family has accused the Palestinian Authority of abducting him from hospital in Egypt and forcibly taking him to the Gaza Strip.

Jaweed al-Ghussein is accused by the Palestinian Authority of embezzling millions of dollars during his time as head of the PLO's finance ministry.

They beat me up and knocked me down when I tried to stop them taking my father away

Mona Bauwens, Jaweed al-Ghussein's daughter
His daughter, Mona Bauwens, said a dozen Palestinian agents stormed the Palestine Hospital in Cairo where Mr al-Ghussein was being treated for cancer and snatched him from his bed.

She said Mr al-Ghussein called his family later to say he was in Gaza.

"They beat me up and knocked me down when I tried to stop them taking my father away," said Ms Bauwens.

The hospital is run by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's brother, Fathi, hospital sources told the Associated Press news agency.

Mona Bauwens
Mona Bauwens: says she was beaten up

The Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted Ms Bauwens as saying "The [Palestinian] Authority's chief of protocol, Saeed Allam, was behind the abduction."

But the Palestinian representative to the Arab League in Cairo, Mohammed Sobeih, said Mr al-Ghussein had gone to Gaza on his own accord.

"He asked for medical treatment, he received it, he agreed to return, and he returned to discuss how he will pay back the money," said Mr Sobeih.

Millions owed

Mr al-Ghussein is said to owe the Palestinian Authority $13m borrowed from the Palestinian National Fund, which he ran from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates between 1982 and 1993.

He was arrested in October, 2000, but refused to go to the Palestinian territories to stand trial.

Arab media reports said Mr Arafat sent his own plane to pick Mr al-Ghussein up and fly him back.

Mr al-Ghussein was placed under house arrest in Gaza but was allowed to travel to Cairo two weeks ago for treatment provided he return to the Palestinian territory, a Palestinian diplomat told Associated Press.

See also:

30 Nov 01 | issues
The running of Palestine
29 Nov 00 | profiles
Arafat: Flawed symbol of Palestine
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