Tel Aviv Court Acquits Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh of Assault on Undercover Officer in Anti-Wall Demonstration in Bil'in in 2005

Attorney Jabareen: 'The fact that the court dismissed three of the four charges shows a blatantly discriminatory policy in the submission of indictments against Arab political leaders.'

Yesterday, 23 March 2014, the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court acquitted MK Mohammad Barakeh, Head of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash/Jabha) of the criminal charge against him for assaulting an undercover officer (Mistaravim, undercover officers posing as Arab demonstrators) during a protest against the Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank Palestinian village of Bil’in in 2005. The Court convicted MK Barakeh on the charge of assault on a right-wing activist during a protest against the War on Lebanon in 2006; in this instance, MK Barakeh tried to fend off the extremist activist from assaulting the peace activist and former MK Uri Avnery, age 85.

These charges are two of four charges – all in different places, at different times regarding legitimate protest activities - against MK Barakeh for which he was indicted in 2009. In October 2011, the court dismissed the other two charges on the grounds that MK Barakeh could not be criminally tried due to his parliamentary immunity. Adalah’s General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen, together with Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Aram Mahameed represented MK Barakeh.

Judge Daniel Be'eri wrote in his decision that the assault charge against the undercover officer in Bil’in cannot be sustained because of the contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecutor’s witnesses. The judge also ruled that there was no legal authority for the undercover officers to arrest demonstrators in Bil’in, and therefore MK Barakeh’s arrest and detention were illegal.

After the court’s decision, MK Barakeh stated that, “The final outcome of the trial proves what we said from the beginning, that this trial is political and solely against my activism and opinions as a Knesset member.” Barakeh also added that the collapse of the indictment - charge by charge - should cause alarm to the prosecution and Attorney General (AG), and raise grave concern as to the excessive chasing of an elected public figure. AG Menachem Mazuz, who is directly responsible for closing the investigation files in the killings of 13 Arab youth during the October 2000 protests, drafted this indictment against me, based on allegations of assaulting a right-wing extremist activist who tried to assault demonstrators protesting against the construction of the Wall.”

Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Hassan Jabareen stated that, “This is the first time that an indictment is presented against a Member of Knesset for participating in protests. The fact that the court dismissed three of the four charges, including the main charge of assaulting an undercover officer, shows a blatantly discriminatory policy in the submission of indictments against Arab political leaders. We hope that the Attorney General will withdraw the marginal charge of fending off an assault by a right-wing activist against Mr. Uri Avnery, and not force us to go to the District Court to dismiss it.”

Read more: Closing Arguments in MK Mohammed Barakeh Case: Discrepancies in Police Testimonies Indicate Case is Fabricated, 10 February 2014


Film Footage Shown at Trial Confirms that MK Barakeh was Not Even at Scene of Alleged Assault of Border Policeman, 2 October 2013