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Amnesty: Israel must release Bassem Tamimi

Nov. 1, 2012 11:28 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 3, 2012 10:17 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities must end the harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi, Amnesty International said Thursday.

Tamimi was detained on Oct. 24 during a protest at an Israeli supermarket in a Jewish settlement near Ramallah.

The non-violence leader from Nabi Saleh -- a West Bank village which holds weekly demonstrations against settlement encroachment -- now faces charges of assaulting a police officer, participating in an unlicensed demonstration, and activity against the public order, Amnesty said.

If convicted, he will also have to serve suspended sentences for similar charges related to protests in his village, the group noted.

Tamimi was convicted in May of taking part in demonstrations and solicitation to throw stones, but released from jail because he had already served the 13-month sentence. The verdict was criticized by human rights groups and the EU foreign policy chief.

Amnesty said it found no evidence he used violence during the protest at Rami Levi supermarket last week, after interviewing witnesses and reviewing several videos of the demonstration.

Witness accounts suggest Israel used "unnecessary and excessive force," to break up the protest, the group said. Tamimi's wife told Amnesty he believes his ribs were broken during his arrest.

The military judge recommended Tamimi be released on house arrest after seeing video evidence, but the verdict is being appealed by the military prosecutor and he remains in Ofer jail, Amnesty said.

"Once again, Bassem Tamimi is being held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly," Amnesty's Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Ann Harrison said.

"We believe he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally."
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