Trial of MK Azmi Bishara and His Parliamentary Assistants to Begin on 10 December 2001


On Monday, 10 December 2001, at 9 am, the trial against MK Dr. Azmi Bishara and two of his parliamentary assistants, Musa Diab and Ashraf Qurtam, will begin.  The trial will take place in the courtroom of Judge Tawfiq Kteli at the Nazareth Magistrate Court.


MK Bishara and his parliamentary assistants are charged with assisting Arab citizens of Israel in travelling to Syria. They are charged under the Emergency Regulations (Departure for Abroad) (1948).  In November 2001, the Knesset stripped MK Bishara of his parliamentary immunity at the request of Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein, who submitted an indictment against the three.  The indictment states that MK Bishara made arrangements with the Syrian authorities, who agreed to allow visits from Arab citizens of Israel to meet with family members.  MK Bishara and his parliamentary assistants organized 19 such visits, for about 800 people, the majority of whom are elderly.


International observers, such as lawyers, representatives of human rights organizations and former parliamentarians, will be present at the court in Nazareth.  Further, several international organizations have begun a campaign in parliaments and in the media in Europe around MK Bishara’s case.