The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday convicted Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei for attacking a right-wing demonstrator during a protest eight years ago.
The lawmaker was acquitted of the more serious charge of striking a soldier from an undercover unit during another demonstration against the West Bank security barrier in Bil’in, west of Ramallah, nine years ago.
When a soldier arrested one of the protesters, Barakei allegedly choked him with his right hand and struck the soldier’s hands with his left, while shouting to nearby demonstrators, “Free him, free him.”
For this, he was charged with assaulting a person performing a duty or function assigned to him by law, a felony that carries a maximum five-year sentence.
Barakei said the verdict “proved what we said at first, that this was a political trial against the activities and positions of a member of the Knesset.”
Hassan Jabareen, Barakei’s lawyer and the general director and founder of the NGO Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which represented Barakei in the trial, claimed that this is “the first time that the prosecutor filed an indictment against an MK for something at a demonstration.”
Jabareen told The Jerusalem Post that many right-wing MKs participated in demonstrations and behaved illegally, such as those during the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but none of them were issued with an indictment.
The court canceled three of the charges and left the most minor one,” said Jabareen, saying that behind these charges is a policy of discrimination and lack of “respect for equality before the rule of law.”
The charges should have all been dismissed because of immunity granted to MKs, but in the end only two were dismissed on this basis, he said.
In addition, “Barakei himself was injured and filed a complaint, but this matter was not dealt with,” Jabereen said.
The conviction will be appealed if the attorney-general does not decide to dismiss it, he said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.