Gazans to hold 'state funeral' for slain Italian

AFP , Monday 18 Apr 2011

Hamas government: body of Italian journalist, Arrigoni will pass through Egypt after his friends and family arrive in Gaza for his funeral

Vittorio Arrigoni
Palestinians and international peace activists gather during a protest against the killing of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Saturday, 16 April 2011. (AP)

Palestinians in Gaza are to hold a "state funeral" for a murdered Italian activist, Hamas said on Sunday, adding it was close to arresting all those involved in his death.

Hamas foreign affairs and planning minister Mohammed Awad told reporters that slain activist 's body would be moved to Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on Monday after a funeral in Gaza.

"We're waiting for his friends and relatives to arrive in Gaza. Some are already here but there are others we are waiting for, and then there will be a state funeral," Awad said.

"We expect afterwards that his body will be taken to the Rafah crossing and then on to Cairo, according to the wishes of his family."

Arrigoni was found hanged in an abandoned house in the north of the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, hours after he was kidnapped by a fringe, radical Salafist group.
Security forces of the Islamic movement Hamas which rules Gaza have arrested four people in connection with his murder, but Awad said some suspects remained at large in the coastal strip.

"Some suspects have been arrested but there are still some people with ties to the operation in the Gaza Strip," he said.

Awad said Hamas expected to arrest all those linked to the killing "shortly" and that security forces had set up roadblocks to ensure those tied to Arrigoni's death could not slip out of Gaza.

Arrigoni, 36, was a long-time member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian organisation, and had been living and working in the Gaza Strip for much of the past three years.

His kidnapping marked the first of a foreigner in the Gaza Strip since the 2007 kidnap of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who was released unharmed.

Hamas has vowed to bring Arrigoni's killers to justice, and Awad said on Sunday that the group planned to rename a street in Gaza City in the activist's honour.


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