mohammad barakeh 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh said Wednesday that the facts in the state’s indictment against him were false and that he and other demonstrators had not attacked police and soldiers at protests but had been attacked by them.
Barakeh spoke to The Jerusalem Post after his trial opened in the morning at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
The indictment covers four separate incidents over a period of two-and-a-half years. The charges against him include assaulting a person performing a duty or function, insulting a public servant, common assault and hindering a policeman in the performance of his duty.
“All the charges involve incidents that occurred during political protests and I attended them as part of my political responsibilities,” said Barakeh. “This is the first time ever that a member of Knesset has been put on trial for fulfilling his parliamentary duties.”
The incidents involved a protest against the security barrier in Bil’in in April 2005, a demonstration against the Second Lebanon War at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market in August 2006, another demonstration against the war in July 2006 and a protest in Nazareth in July 2007 against the failure to charge policemen for the deaths of 12 Israeli Arabs and a Palestinian during the October 2000 riots.
Barakeh and his lawyer, Hassan Jabarin, head of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, asked the court to separate the charges from one another and submit four separate indictments.
“The indictment links four separate incidents over a period of two years which have nothing to do with one another,” said Barakeh.
“There was no justification for doing that in terms of efficiency or given the fact that the witnesses in each case have nothing to do with each other. The real reason they combined the incidents was to create a negative image of me.”
Jabarin told the court that Barakeh could have argued that his participation in the protests was protected by parliamentary immunity but he preferred not to because he wanted to prove that the charges themselves were false.
“Barakeh’s position is that he never caused harm to the dignity of
anyone and does not use words that insult public officials,” he told
Judge Daniel Be’eri.
“As he sees it, even though the crimes he is accused of are light from
a criminal point of view, they are harsh as far as he is concerned
because he says ‘I am not one of those who behaves this way.’”
Be’eri ruled that the defense request to split the indictment into four separate ones would be heard next month.