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Palestinian-Israeli activist accepts plea deal
Published Wednesday 27/10/2010 (updated) 30/10/2010 10:44
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By Jared Malsin

GAZA (Ma'an) -- Ameer Makhoul, the Palestinian activist from Haifa, accepted a plea bargain on Wednesday, confessing to espionage charges leveled by the Israeli state.

Makhoul, an Israeli citizen, was detained by authorities during a nighttime raid on his home in May. He and his lawyers maintain that the charges against him are political, and that he was tortured while in prison. Makhoul was also banned from seeing a lawyer for the first 12 days of his detention.

The charges include conspiring to assist an enemy, contact with a foreign agent and spying for Hezbollah.

Orna Kohn, one of Makhoul's lawyers from the legal rights group Adalah, said Makhoul decided to accept the plea deal after consultation with his defense team.

Under the deal, she said, the content of the indictment was reduced. The state is asking for 10 years imprisonment, while the defense is asking for seven, Kohn added.

Kohn said the decision to accept the deal was made after taking into consideration "the political climate now and the legal situation under Israeli law with so-called security charges, and given the history of rulings in Israeli courts dealing with such charges."

Kohn said she met Makhoul earlier on Wednesday. Asked about his condition, she said, "He's well. He's hopeful the court will rule for the minimal number of years."

"He understands his chances of being acquitted are slim," she added. She said the charges against him "in any other country should not have been basis for indictment."

A hearing is set for 5 December, when the court will decide whether to accept the plea deal reached between the prosecution and the defense.

Makhoul is the director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations, and also chaired the High Arab Monitoring Committee's panel on defending Arab citizens' freedoms. He was arrested in May along with Omar Saeed, an activist with the Balad party.

The plea bargain was agreed upon in the Haifa District Court after being submitted on Tuesday.

A representative for the prosecution told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "The plea bargain was approved by the highest ranking levels of prosecution, including the state prosecutor. Most importantly Makhoul, who claimed he was being politically persecuted at the beginning of this, now stands in front of the court and admits to the charges attributed to him."
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1 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
27/10/2010 21:24
If he wasn't guilty, he should stood by his principles and refused to agree to any charges at all

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
27/10/2010 21:26
Fuzzy stuff. My guess is that Makhoul DID have contacts with Hezbollah -- but the exchange did nothing to damage Israel's security. So...Makhoul doesn't want to go to prison for a long time. Israel doesn't want a trial where it is manifestly crushing harmless dissent. Plea bargain.

3 ) southparkbear / usa
28/10/2010 01:27
life in prison should be the cheapest option for him, implementing Hizbullah treatment of 'traitors' is more appropriate

4 ) Fadi / Nablus
28/10/2010 04:23
the zionists probably tortured him or are threatening his family, it is a common practice of the usurping entity.

5 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
28/10/2010 05:16
BEN JABO, you apparently haven't been beaten up by Israeli forces trying to get you to confess to something, and you apparently haven't had to serve a day in jail. If he sticks by his principles he dies in prison. Colin Wright got it right.

6 ) mark t. / palestine
28/10/2010 08:59
The hypocrisy is astonishing. 90% of West Bank political prisoners take plea bargains. Israel controls their fate and they know it. This man was kidnapped in the dead of the night. He was tortured, denied access to a lawyer and not given due legal process. His trial was based on secret 'evidence' and a confession extracted under duress. The choice is between staying in prison for his entire life or seeing his family again one day. No one has a right to demand that price. I support Ameer 100%

7 ) decan al nabee / lubnan
29/10/2010 02:52
now that justice have been serve it's time for him to wait from a call from above or bellow. in between to try to be a good wife in prison

8 ) southparkbear / usa
29/10/2010 13:49
apply arab muslims justice, that mean the full feature tar and public hanging in town square feet up
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