Leading Communist Party member MK Muhammad Barakeh accused of assaulting an officer

The Attorney General informed Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Speaker Reuven Rivlin yesterday (Sunday, November 1, 2009) that criminal charges have been filed against MK Muhammad Barakeh, chairman of Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), “for attacking an official who was discharging his legal duty, insulting a public servant, assault and interfering with a policeman in the line of duty”.

The Communist Party of Israel declared that the indictment against Barakeh was based on false testimony which Barakeh completely denied. According to the indictment, Barakeh participated in a protest against the apartheid fence near the Bil’in Palestinian village on April 28, 2005. When a soldier arrested one of the demonstrators, Barakeh allegedly choked him with his right hand and struck the soldier’s hands with his left, while shouting to nearby demonstrators, “free him, free him”. 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.

On August 5, 2006, Barakeh took part in a demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market against the criminal Second Lebanon War. When his son, Said a member of the Israeli Young Communist League (Banki-Shabiba), was detained by police officer Sharon Harpaz, Barakeh demand to free him. For this, he was charged with insulting a public servant, a crime punishable by six months in jail.

On July 22, 2006, while taking part in another demonstration against the war in Lebanon, Barakeh allegedly struck a photographer, Yitzhak Hananya, in the ribs and shoulder, after Hananya had insulted well-know peace activist Uri Avnery. For this he was charged with common assault, a misdemeanor punishable by two years in jail.

On July 7, 2007, during a protest in Nazareth, Barakeh allegedly ordered a policie officer, Avraham Haliwa, to release Hadash secretary-general Ayman Udah from arrest. For this, Barakeh was charged with hindering a police officer in the performance of his duty, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of three years.

The Communist Party of Israel charged that it had evidence proving that during the Bil’in protest it was the police and those dressed as Arabs who attacked the demonstrators, including Barakeh, and used tear gas and shock grenades against them.  Barakeh complained to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department about their behavior but the department did not investigate the complaint.

The Communist Party said that the indictment was politically motivated and that it wanted to criminalize purely political and legitimate protest against war and occupation and to sully Barakeh’s reputation.