Palestinian activist Tamimi sentenced to 13 months (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 05/30/12)
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A military court on Tuesday sentenced Palestinian activist Bassem
Tamimi to 13 months of time he already served in prison and an
additional 17 months of a suspended sentence, for his role in
planning the weekly Friday demonstrations in the West Bank
Palestinian village of Nabi Salih. He must also pay a NIS 7,000 fine.
The court, which issued its verdict on the case on May 20, also
convicted Tamimi, 45, of “soliciting” other activists to throw stones
at IDF soldiers as they attempted to disperse the weekly rallies.
Tamimi was first arrested in March 2011 and held in prison until
April, when he was released for humanitarian reasons – to care for
his mother who had had a stroke and was partially paralyzed. But he
was confined to Ramallah and placed under partial house arrest there.
The military court on Tuesday said Tamimi had effectively served his
prison sentence, but should he engage in similar violations in the
next five years, he would be jailed for 17 months.
Since his arrest, Tamimi admitted to organizing and participating in
the rallies, but insisted he was innocent of all charges that
The international community, which pays increasing attention to the
Nabi Salih rallies, has picked up Tamimi’s cause. Amnesty
International in March pronounced him a prisoner of conscience.
Last week, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton criticized his
Her office said in a statement, “The EU considers Bassem Tamimi to be
a ‘human rights defender’ committed to non-violent protest against
the expansion of an Israeli settlement on lands belonging to his West
Bank village of Nabi Salih.”
“The EU attended all court hearings in his case and is concerned at
the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was
interrogated in violation of his rights,” the statement continued.
“The EU believes that everyone should be able to exercise their
legitimate right to protest in a non-violent manner,” it said.
But in sentencing Tamimi, the military court said his offenses were
serious. In particular, it charged that he influenced activists,
including minors, to throw stones at IDF soldiers and in some cases
provided them with information as to the soldiers’ locations over
cellphones, so they could more effectively aim the stones.
The court said his sentence took into account the 12- month prison
sentence imposed last year on his cousin Naji Tamimi, who was
arrested at the same time and pled guilty to more serious offenses.
The court said it could not impose a significantly harsher sentence
when Bassem Tamimi had committed lesser offenses.
Bassem Tamimi had initially been charged with more serious offenses
including incitement, and rejected the option of a plea bargain.
Most of the charges were dropped during the course of the trial,
according to Jonathan Pollak, a spokesman for the Popular Struggle
Coordination Committee, of which Tamimi is a member.
Upon hearing the sentence, Tamimi said, “The military court, being an
instrument of occupation, sent a clear message today that Palestinian
political prisoners are better off confessing to what they have not
done than going to trial.”
“I was acquitted of the bulk of the indictment against me, but served
more time than my friend – who chose to plead guilty to all the
charges in a plea bargain,” he continued. “Had I confessed to what I
was not convicted of, I could have returned to my family earlier.”
Tamimi was initially charged based on information from an
interrogation of three witnesses aged 14, 15 and 19, who had been
arrested. The court found two of the testimonies to be suspect.
The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee argued on Tuesday that
Tamimi should have been acquitted. It alleged that the testimony of
the 15-year-old witness was similarly suspect, because he believed he
would be treated more leniently if he implicated others. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/30/12)
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