On 5 February 2014, the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court heard closing arguments in the criminal trial of Communist MK Mohammed Barakeh, Hadash chairman (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality). The case has been ongoing since 2009.
Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Aram Mahameed represented MK Barakeh in court. Attorney Jabareen refuted all allegations made by the prosecution, highlighting fundamental flaws in the investigation process and discrepancies between witness testimonies and the indictment. Attorney Jabareen also contested the police officers’ testimonies, including their physical descriptions of MK Barakeh, which was totally different from his actual appearance. For instance, the police described MK Barakeh as being short in stature, obese and bald, while he is tall, well-built and has hair.
In addition, none of the police officers involved were subjected to serious examination when the indictment was filed. Rather, the indictment was based on testimonies written by the police officers themselves at the same time while they were sitting together in a room, which seriously undermines their credibility. Attorney Jabareen also pointed out that although one of the police officers testified to the presence of a police video camera at the demonstration, the prosecution failed to show video in court. The judge, who is due to deliver the verdict on 23 March 2014, referred to some of the contradictions and flaws in the indictment.
Regarding the charge of assaulting a right-wing activist, Attorney Jabareen clarified to the court that the allegations made by the activist contradict the testimonies made by other witnesses for the prosecution. Further, whereas the complainant said that he photographed the events, the prosecution did not provide these photographs in court. In his testimony, MK Barakeh said that he had been walking at the front throughout the demonstration, linking arms with other leaders and did not assault anyone. Adalah stated, “This indictment is the first of its kind in Israel, whereby a member of parliament is charged in connection with his or her participation in a demonstration. The trial is a continuation of the political persecution of Arab public leaders in Israel, which aims to criminalize the legitimate political activities of Arab citizens in the country and deter them from expressing their views on the occupation, discrimination and racism.”
The Court has already dismissed two of four charges against MK Barakeh, deciding that they fell within his parliamentary immunity. Significantly, the dismissal of the two charges occurred during the preliminary proceedings in the case, i.e. before examination of the substance of the charges against him. Communist Party of Israel said: “This fact shows that the indictment is weak, flimsy and should be dismissed in full. Police testimonies indicate case is fabricated.”