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Barakeh Indictment Filed in Tel Aviv Court

Israeli-Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh was indicted Wednesday in the Tel Aviv District Court on four charges. He could face up to five years in jail.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/9/2009, 3:41 PM / Last Update: 12/9/2009, 4:18 PM

Flash 90

The Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office on Wednesday filed an indictment against MK Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the mixed Arab-Jewish Communist "Hadash" party, in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. On November 1, the Attorney General's office announced the decision to indict the Knesset Member on four charges relating to four incidents that occurred over a period of two years.

At the time, Barakeh was given a month in which to request parliamentary immunity from the indictment or to stand trial. However, it was not clear whether or not he would make the request or even whether the Knesset would agree to extend the privilege. 

The State Prosecutor's Office announced that at the end of the month the MK had decided not to turn to the Knesset committee for governmental immunity, and the prosecution filed the indictment.

The indictments focus on four incidents:

* In the first, dating back four years ago, Barakeh allegedly choked and hit an IDF soldier during a protest against the security barrier at Bili'in in which he participated on April 28, 2005. He was charged with assaulting a soldier while carrying out a task in the line of duty -- a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

* One year later, on July 22, 2006, Barakeh was accused of allegedly hitting a photographer in the ribs and shoulder during a demonstration against the Second Lebanon War. The MK had attacked Yitzchak Hanania after he insulted leftist activist Uri Avneri -- and was charged with assault, a misdemeanor that carries a two-year jail term.

*  Shortly after, Barakeh threatened Tel Aviv police officer Sharon Harpaz and slapped him across the face three times after the MK's son, a minor, was detained. The incident occurred on August 5, 2006, while Barakeh and his son were participating in a demonstration held at the city's open-air Carmel Market against the Second Lebanon War. Barakeh began bellowing at the police officer, "You are violent and will pay dearly for your actions," calling him "contemptible." The MK was charged with insulting a public servant -- a misdemeanor that carries a six-month jail term.

*  Barakeh was also arrested on July 7, 2007 for interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties -- another felony carrying a sentence of up to three years in prison -- for allegedly telling Police Deputy Commander Avraham Haliwa during a protest in Nazareth, "Shut your mouth, you idiot. What are you doing? Go to hell. You're crazy." The incident occurred after Barakeh had ordered the commander to release the Hadash party's secretary-general, Ayman Uda, after he had been arrested. The commander replied that Barakeh should instead be trying to calm down the protestors, rather than focus on freeing his political colleague.

Four years ago, at a pro-Syrian rally in the Galilee city of Nazareth, Barakeh joined former Arab Israeli MK Azmi Bishara and Muslim clerics in denouncing the United States and Israel. MK Barakeh told the crowd at the time, "A strong and resistant Syria will bring closer the day in which Jerusalem will become Palestine's capital."

Barakeh addressed the crowd of some 500 Arabs and Druze, comparing the United States and Israel to a large and small spider, and accused the two nations of trying to create a crisis between Syria and Lebanon. "We can clearly see the cobwebs" of the spiders, he told the audience as it cheered and waved Palestinian Authority (PA) flags and pictures of Syrian president Hafez Assad.

Bishara later fled Israel to escape charges of aiding and abetting the enemy during wartime and carrying out espionage on behalf of the Hizbullah terrorist organization.