'Ze'evi killers can be tried in Israel'

Senior state law officials conclude that "double jeopardy" does not apply.

Senior state law officials have concluded that the suspects in the assassination of former cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi can be tried in Israel and that "double jeopardy " does not apply in their case, the Justice Ministry announced on Thursday. The conclusion was the outcome of a meeting held Thursday by State Attorney Eran Shendar on what to do with the six Palestinians, five of whom are allegedly responsible for the 2001 assassination, captured in Jericho on Tuesday. The six are currently being interrogated by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The question, which must be decided by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, is whether they can be tried by an Israeli court. According to the Justice Ministry announcement, "the conclusion of all those dealing with the matter, on the basis of the agreements that Israel has signed, the circumstances of this specific case and in accordance with a legal opinion dealing with the question, is that 'double jeopardy ' regarding those involved in the assassination of Ze'evi does not apply. Therefore, Israel has the right to try them in Israel. This right applies to both the civilian and military court systems." The participants said that as in the case of Mustafa Barghouti, who was seized from the West Bank and put on trial in Tel Aviv District Court on charges including murder, Israel has an interest in trying the alleged killers in a civilian court. But the Justice Ministry said that no final decision was taken at Thursday's meeting and that the attorney-general will wait for the results of the Shin Bet interrogation. The participants in the meeting included IDF Advocate-General Avi Mandelblit, Deputy State Attorneys Shuki Lemberger and Shai Nitzan, the legal adviser of the Shin Bet and other officials in the Justice Ministry, the army and the Shin Bet dealing with the matter. On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers laid siege to the PA's prison in Jericho for nine-and-a-half hours, until the five suspects in Ze'evi's murder and the financier of the Karine A arms ship gave themselves up. The suspects in Ze'evi's assassination include Ahmed Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ihad Alma, Majdi Rimawi, Hamdi Kura'an and Basel Al-Asmar. The sixth suspect was Fuad Shubaki.