jericho prisoners 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Waving his arms in the air, a shackled Ahmed Saadat entered a courtroom on Monday at the Ofer Military Court north of Jerusalem, claiming he would continue fighting the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people.
Leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Saadat, suspected of directing the 2001 assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, was seized when IDF units stormed the Jericho Prison where he was being held two weeks ago.
Four other members of the PFLP cell which carried out the assassination were also detained by troops. Two of them joined Saadat's appeal against his arrest on Monday.
Raising his hands in a gesture of defiance, Saadat shouted in Arabic: "I am fighting the occupation!" before he was silenced by guards and led into a closed court hearing. During the hearing, Saadat refused to identify himself and claimed the court did not have jurisdiction to try him. As a result, an appeal submitted by his lawyer against his continued imprisonment was rejected.
"What Israel is doing is illegal," Saadat's lawyer Mahmoud Hassan said before the hearing. "Saadat was cleared by the Palestinian Supreme Court and you cannot indict a person twice for the same crime."
Two weeks ago, however, senior Israeli law officials concluded that the suspects in Ze'evi's assassination could be tried in Israel and that "double indemnity" did not apply in their case.
Israel, Hassan said, was obligated to return Saadat and his accomplices to the Jericho Prison from which they were seized.
"They were tried in the PA and are in the midst of serving out their sentences," he said. "Israel does not have the authority to try them."
The IDF Jericho raid triggered unprecedented Palestinian reprisals against foreigners, because British wardens - who along with American monitors had supervised the Jericho prisoners under a 2002 US-brokered arrangement - left their posts just before the troops arrived. Israel claimed it did not coordinate the operation with the US and Britain but that it was deemed necessary after the wardens left, as Saadat and the other prisoners might have been able to walk away as free men.