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Palestinian bus driver found hanged in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM: A Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in west Jerusalem overnight, in what Israeli police said Monday was an apparent suicide but a colleague said looked like murder.

The incident happened late on Sunday, with a supervisor finding his body at a bus depot in Har Hotzvim, an industrial zone in north Jerusalem, police said in a statement.

Family members identified the victim as Yusuf Hasan al-Ramuni from Al-Tur on the Mount of Olives in annexed east Jerusalem. They ruled out suicide by the 32-year-old father of two.

But results from an autopsy carried out on the body with the family’s consent found no evidence of foul play in his death, police said.

“No suspicion of criminal activity was found,” said police spokeswoman Luba Samri in a statement after a port mortem was carried out at Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv.

Earlier, clashes erupted in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Dis, where his family lives, as scores of protesters burned tyres and threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas and sponge rounds, AFP correspondent said.

Demonstrators could also be seen trying to break down part of Israel’s towering concrete separation barrier which cuts through the neighbourhood, police and the correspondent said.

Ramuni’s death comes after months of tension in Arab east Jerusalem following the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, with police in the city on high alert for violence on either side.

“According to an initial investigation, it appears there is no suspicion of criminal activity, in other words a suicide,” Samri said in her statement, reporting “no signs of violence on the body”.

But fellow bus driver Muatasem Fakeh said he had seen evidence to the contrary.

“We saw signs of violence on his body,” he told AFP.

“He was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone,” he added.

The victim’s brother, Osama al-Ramuni, said the family did not accept the verdict of suicide, saying his body “had bruises on it,” suggesting he had been “tortured” before his death.

“My brother had children and was a happy man. It is impossible that he killed himself,” he told AFP.

“He had no problems that would make him do it,” he said, adding — before it was carried out — that a post-mortem would “reveal everything.”

“We reject the suicide theory. We all know it was settlers who killed him,” he said, using a common Palestinian euphemism for Jewish extremists.

The driver’s body was to be handed back to the family for a burial ceremony in Abu Dis, police said. -AFP

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