The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday convicted Hadash chairman and leading Communist Party member, MK Muhammad Barakeh 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 Palestinian village, west of Ramallah, nine years ago. 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.
Barakeh 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, Barakeh’s lawyer and the general director and founder of t Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, claimed that this is “the first time that the prosecutor filed an indictment against an MK for something at a demonstration.” Jabareen told journalists 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, “Barakeh 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.
“This trial proved that the indictment formulated by the State Prosecutor’s Office and approved by then-attorney general [Menachem] Mazuz has collapsed shamefully,” agreed Barakeh. “I think that lawyers in the State Prosecutor’s Office and the former attorney general can’t pretend to be committed to justice and truth after such a collapse. I think there’s room to consult with my lawyers about filing a complaint against the State Prosecutor’s Office for negligence.”