[News] Palestinians, Arabs Spurn Jail Verdict Against Barghuti

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Mon Jun 7 11:20:09 EDT 2004



Palestinians, Arabs Spurn Jail Verdict Against Barghuti

http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2004-06/06/article07.shtml

RAMALLAH, West Bank, June 6 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) ­ The
Palestinian Authority and the Arab League on Sunday, June 6, dismissed as
"null and void" Israel 's five-decade jail term against Palestinian
lawmaker Marwan Barghuti and demanded his immediate release.

"We reject this sentence and do not recognize this unfair decision,"
Palestinian Premier Ahmed Qorei told Voice of Palestine radio, reported
Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"Barghuti is a member of the Palestinian parliament and a national leader
and the Israeli occupation forces have no right to sentence him."

A Tel Aviv court had earlier in the morning slapped five life terms and
two additional 20-year terms against Barghuti for his alleged involvement
in a series of "murders".

An Israeli court on Thursday, May 20, convicted Barghuti of several counts
of "murder".

Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat said the court had no
jurisdiction over the Palestinian legislator and called on " Israel to
release him immediately."

He branded the verdict "illegal and invalid because the Israeli court has
no power to sentence him as an elected member of the Palestinian
Legislative Council."

Qaddura Fares, minister without portfolio in the Palestinian cabinet, also
condemned the sentence as illegal.

"Everything was illegal from the beginning and the occupation is illegal
so the decision is illegal," he told AFP.

He stressed that Israel 's real intention in trying Barghuti was to send a
strong message to the Palestinians about their Intifada against the
occupation.

Mohammed Barakeh, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset who was present in
court, compared the sentencing to the jailing of South African hero Nelson
Mandela who became.

"Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming president of South
Africa . Marwan Barghuti will spend much less time inside," he told AFP.

The Cairo-based Arab League echoed similar condemnation of the Israeli
verdict.

"The sentence is null and void because the Israeli tribunal is illegal,"
Hussam Zaki, spokesman for the league's chief Amr Moussa, told AFP.

"History has taught us that people whose lands are occupied and whose
rights have been trampled end up victorious," said Zaki.

The spokesman of the pan-Arab organization praised Barghuti as a
"nationalist with a glorious past".

Triumphant Intifada

Denying Israel a psychological victory, a defiant Barghuti vowed that the
Palestinian Intifada would triumph, waving a victory sign.

As the Israeli judge started reading the sentence, Barghuti, who turned 45
on Sunday, interrupted and asked to speak.

They reluctantly agreed, letting him speak for five minutes, mostly in
Arabic.

"The continuation of the Intifada is the only path to independence. This
occupation is the ugliest colonial occupation that humanity has known, but
this occupation is dying and they had better start preparing for its
funeral," he told the court.

"No matter how many they arrest or kill, they will not break the
determination of the Palestinian people," he said.

Barghuti's lawyer, Jawad Boulos, said his client would not be appealing
the sentence as he had never acknowledged the legitimacy of the court
since he was arrested in April 2002.

"There will be no appeal," Boulus told AFP. "We do not recognize this
court and we will not legitimize it."

Barghuti's tearful wife Fadwa told reporters in Ramallah that she was
deeply upset by the verdict but was also proud of her husband as a symbol
of the Palestinian people.

"From the very beginning, this trial has been not only against Marwan but
against the whole Intifada," she said.

"But we will continue on the same path as Marwan."

Barghuti was abducted by special Israeli forces near Ramallah in April
2002.

Two Palestinian rights groups, after visiting Barghuti, said he was being
tortured and ill-treated by the Israeli security services.



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