Palestinian protest leader released on bail
Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A leading Palestinian activist has been released on bail after spending 13 months in prison, friends said on Wednesday.
Non-violent protest leader Bassem Tamimi was detained by Israeli forces in his home town of Nabi Saleh in March last year, and accused of organizing demonstrations in the village.
The area has been the scene of weekly protests since 2009 when a nearby illegal Israeli settlement stole the town's land and water resources.
Israeli forces have detained more than 80 residents, around 10 percent of the entire village, since protests began, according to the Popular Struggle Committee.
On Tuesday, an Israeli military court rejected the military prosecution's appeal against his release on bail, and released him on 12,000 shekel (US$3,193) bail, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency said.
Tamimi will not be able to return to his village, as bail conditions prescribe he remain inside the city of Ramallah.
He will next appear in court on May 13, when the court will give its verdict on his case, committee spokesman Jonathan Pollack said.
The European Union and rights group Amnesty International had condemned the detention of Tamimi because he was charged based on evidence obtained through confessions extracted by interrogating children.
Throughout his trial, Tamimi has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the military court system that rules over Palestinians in the West Bank, and Israeli regulations that deem any gathering of more than 10 people an illegal demonstration.
Many Palestinians are sentenced by Israeli military courts, with over 300 currently held under "administrative detention," which enables Israel to detain people without charge for renewable six month periods.
Administrative detention, a British-mandate era policy, was brought to world attention this year due to the high-profile hunger strikes of Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, both of whom won concessions after highlighting the practice while in jail.
Israel has maintained a military occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 1967, and are continuing to expand illegal Jewish settlements in a bid to absorb the territory into its state.
Israel's policies in the West Bank have drawn accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
(Al-Akhbar, Ma'an, AP)