On 8 June 2014, Adalah filed an appeal on behalf of Communist MK Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of Hadash to the Tel Aviv District Court against the Magistrate Court’s decision to convict him of assaulting a right-wing activist during a demonstration against the second war on Lebanon in 2006. MK Barakeh was convicted of this charge on 24 April 2014 and sentenced to a fine of NIS 650.
Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Aram Mahameed, representing MK Barakeh, argued in the appeal that the Magistrate Court wrongfully ignored MK Barakeh’s parliamentary immunity concerning the charge against him. In this case, MK Barakeh simply fended off a right-wing activist who was trying to attack the demonstrators. The lawyers noted that, “The Supreme Court has acknowledged in the past that when events deteriorate during a demonstration and a Knesset member does a ‘seemingly’ illegal act because of the escalating of events, his parliamentary immunity applies.”
Adalah also emphasized that the court ignored numerous similar cases in which Knesset members were not indicted, and therefore the filing of the indictment against MK Barakeh constitutes discrimination against him. In the appeal, Adalah cited many examples of Knesset members’ acts during demonstrations that have not been prosecuted.
The charge on which MK Barakeh was convicted is part of a four-count indictment filed by the Attorney General (AG) against him in November 2009. The indictment related to four different events, places and time periods, all related to MK Barakeh’s legitimate protest activities. In October 2011, the court dismissed two of the charges on the basis that MK Barakeh’s parliamentary immunity applied to them, and therefore he could not be charged. In March 2014, the court acquitted MK Barakeh of the third and most serious charge, which alleged that he assaulted undercover police officers during a demonstration against the Separation Wall in the village of Bil’in in 2005. The acquittal was delivered due to the stark contradictions between the officers’ testimonies and the evidence presented by the defense team.