Ma'an News Agency
July 9, 2010 - 12:00am

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Bil'in protest leader Adeeb Abu Rahma is being held in Israeli custody until the prosecution's appeal against him is heard, despite having served his term in full, a statement read Friday.

Abu Rahma, a taxi driver and organizer of the weekly anti wall protests in the central West Bank village of Bil'in near Ramallah, was sentenced to 12 months, a further 12 months of suspended sentence, and ordered to pay a fine on Thursday, in the first of a series of trials against Palestinian protest organizers.

"The sentencing followed a yearlong show-trial, held amidst a massive Israeli arrest campaign, that ended with a conviction of incitement, activity against the public order and entering a closed military zone," the statement read, adding that "Abu Rahmah's case relied heavily on the forced confessions of four minors arrested during a night raid by Israeli soldiers."

According to the statement, the minors were questioned unlawfully, without their parents being presents and, in same cases, late at night.

Abu Rahma was detained on 10 July 2009 and was supposed to be released immediately according to the decision. The prosecution filed an appeal in the Military Court of Appeals, asking that he remains incarcerated despite having served his sentence.

The presiding military Judge Lieutenant Colonel Benisho of the Military Court of Appeals decided to remand Abu Rahmah until a decision in the appeal was issued, saying that "This is an appeal filed to set the proper punishment in a unique case regarding which a general punishment level has not yet been set," the statement read.

Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah's attorney, said that "A man remains imprisoned today, even despite having served his sentence fully. The only reason for that is the Military Prosecution's will to use legal procedures as a political tool to crack down on demonstrations, and the Military Court's cooperation with these ambitions.

"The Court of Appeals completely ignored Supreme Court precedents determining that once having served a sentence, a person should only be remanded in very extraordinary situations. This is not the case here."

The conviction does not conform to Israeli legal precedent, the statement read, noting that the Israeli Supreme Court convicted a Jewish settler with incitement to murder, who was sentenced to eight months suspended term.


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