After 5 years of trial, Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court sentences MK Mohammed Barakeh to pay NIS 650 fine

Attorney Jabareen: “The main objective behind the four charges was to achieve a sentence of imprisonment for the MK, but the prosecution failed to do so.”

On 24 April 2014, Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court sentenced Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh (al-Jabha/Hadash) to pay a fine of NIS 400 and a compensation fee of NIS 250 to a right-wing activist whom he was convicted of assaulting during a demonstration against the war on Lebanon in 2006. The decision concludes five years of trial to defend MK Barakeh on four charges.

In September 2009, state prosecutors issued an indictment with four charges against MK Barakeh. The charges related to different events, places and time periods in which MK Barakeh participated in demonstrations. 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 dismissed the third and most serious charge, which alleged that MK Barakeh had assaulted undercover police officers during a demonstration against the separation wall in the village of Bil’in in 2005. The court convicted him of the fourth charge of attacking a right-wing activist in a demonstration against the War on Lebanon in 2006; during the incident in question, the MK was attempting to prevent the activist from assaulting peace activist and former MK Uri Avnery.

Adalah’s General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen, who represented MK Barakeh, said that the defense attorneys “still consider the conviction of MK Barakeh serious even though the punishment is minimal and marginal". Jabareen added that, “The main objective behind the four charges was to achieve a sentence of imprisonment for the MK, but the prosecution failed to do so.”

During the five years of legal proceedings, the defense team, which also consisted of Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Aram Mahameed, presented evidence and testimonies which indicated that, contrary to the police’s accusations, MK Barakeh did not assault the right-wing activist and that he was attempting to protect the protesters.

Adalah who defended MK Barakeh in his case stated that “the prosecution should cancel this charge especially because of the Attorney General's policy not to indict Members of the Knesset based on their political activism and based on such trivial conflicts.”

Adalah also pointed out that this is “the first time in Israel’s history that a court convicts a Member of the Knesset for pushing back people during a demonstration”.

MK Barakeh stated that the conviction was an attempt to criminalize his political activities and freedom of expression. He noted a different case in which “the prosecution had reached a deal with MK Avigdor Lieberman, who was convicted of assaulting minors, and did not impose any penalties on him. But in my case, the prosecution demanded that the court impose a prison sentence, simply because I defended peace activist Uri Avnery, who was 83 years old at the time, from an activist who tried to assault him.”

See Tel Aviv Court acquits Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh of assault on undercover officer in anti-Wall demonstration in Bil’in in 2005, 24 March 2014