Tel Aviv Court Rejects Defense Motion concerning Illegality of Joining Four Different Charges in One Indictment against Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh;

New Motion Submitted to Compel Prosecution to Disclose Crucial Investigatory Materials

On 21 April 2010, the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court held a hearing on one of the preliminary arguments made by Adalah in the case of Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh, the leader of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (“al-Jabha” or “Hadash”) regarding the illegality of joining together four different charges in a single indictment. Adalah Attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Orna Kohn argued that the joinder was illegal in that it constituted the improper use of the powers of the State Prosecutor, and stood to harm the legal defense of MK Barakeh and his right to a fair trial.

The court summarily rejected Adalah’s motion against the joinder, finding that the charges are all similar and that it was not convinced that the defense would be damaged. In its decision, the court failed to examine the harm incurred to the fair trial rights of MK Barakeh by the joinder of the four charges.  Following the delivery of the decision, Adalah and MK Barakeh announced that they would appeal against it to the Supreme Court.

The four charges against MK Barakeh relate to four separate and unrelated incidents which allegedly took place over three years: a demonstration in Bil’in, West Bank against the Wall, two demonstrations in Tel Aviv against the Lebanon War that took place on different dates, and a demonstration in Nazareth concerning the lack of accountability of police and politician leaders responsible for the October 2000 killings of 13 unarmed Arab citizens of Israel. Specifically at each of these demonstrations, MK Barakeh is charged with allegedly assaulting or insulting a public officer and harassment of a policeman during his work. The combination of these different charges in one indictment indicates that it is the State Prosecutor’s intent is to create an illusion of criminality around MK Barakeh, and thus to unfairly influence the court.  At the hearing, the prosecution claimed that the charges were joined because they all concerned demonstrations but it was unable to provide any serious legal justification for the joinder of the offenses.

Adalah also submitted a motion requesting that the court order the State Prosecutor to disclose part of the investigatory materials, which it has thus far concealed. For example, the State Prosecutor did not provide the defense with the video recording of MK Barakeh at one of the demonstrations in which he participated. The State Prosecutor is bound by law to allow the defense team to examine these materials.

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