Marwan Barghouti: Prisoner of Conscience - by Stephen Lendman
Israel illegally tried, convicted and imprisoned Barghouti like thousands of other Palestinians incarcerated as prisoners of conscience.
From March 29 - May 3, 2002, during the second Intifada, Israel conducted Operation Defensive Shield. Before Cast Lead, it was its largest military operation since June 1967 when Israel occupied Palestine.
On September 23, 2001, a warrant was issued for Barghouti's arrest. On April 14, 2002, he was arrested on spurious charges of murder, aiding and abetting murder, promoting murder, criminal conspiracy, and being an active member of a terrorist organization.
At the time he said:
"I am a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people. Israel has no right to try me, to accuse me, to judge me. This is a violation of international law. I have a (legal) right to resist occupation."
On September 5, his trial began. Barghouti disputed its legitimacy under international law. On December 12, Judge Zvi Gurfinkel ruled as follows:
"I reject the argument at this stage of the proceeding regarding the Court's authority in the context of the petition for the detention pending completion of proceedings filed by the State against the Defendant."
"Ultimately, the State of Israel has the right and the authority to judge the Defendant," according to Israeli and international law.
On May 20, 2004, Barghouti was convicted of involvement in three terrorist attacks killing five people. Acquitted on 33 other charges, he received five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years.
A three-judge panel ruled that although he didn't fully control local Brigade leaders and wasn't directly involved, he had "significant influence" over their conduct.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) international organization of parliaments and sovereign states published a legal assessment of his proceedings based on case notes, prosecutorial member and defense team interviews, as well as others with international NGO trial observers.
IPU concluded that:
"From the beginning of the investigations until the final day of the trial, the prosecution put almost as much effort into staging a media event as it did into working on the legal aspects."
Moreover, show trial theatrics and publicity took precedence over Barghouti's legal rights. Numerous international laws were breached. Judicial fairness was denied. The entire process was illegitimate. It elevated him more than ever to prominence.