Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Israeli-Arab eyes plea bargain over Hezbollah spying charges

26 October 2010

Ameer Makhoul at court

Ameer Makhoul at court

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz – 26 Oct 2010

Attorneys for alleged Israeli spy Ameer Makhoul have been formulating a plea bargain which will be presented before the Haifa Court over the course of the next few days, Haaretz learned on Tuesday.

Makhoul, director general of the charity Ittijah (Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, was detained by the Shin Bet security service and police anti-terror squads on May 6 for charges of spying and contact with a foreign agent from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

According to Makhoul’s brother Assam, a former MK for Hadash, his brothers’ Attorneys Avigidor Feldman, Abu Hussein and Hassan Jibrin will ask the prosecution to drop the severe charge of espionage in exchange for Makhoul’s confession on several other counts.

If the plea bargain is put into action Makhoul is expected to serve between seven to ten years in jail, yet the details of the plea bargain have not yet been finalized.

Makhoul was arrested along another Israeli Arab Omar Saeedm who struck a plea bargain in August in which he will be charged with working for an illegal organization, a crime which will see him incarcerated for seven months.

Upon his arrest Makhoul was kept from meeting with a lawyer or speaking with his family for nearly two weeks, during which he confessed to the accusations, a confession which his lawyers later said was coerced. His defense attorneys were finally allowed access to Makhoul after they threatened to boycott a hearing unless they were allowed to meet their client.

Reports of the arrests circulated widely on unofficial websites and blogs but government censors had banned the Israeli press from reporting them until the gag order was lifted last week.

The veteran activist is well-known among Arab charities and NGOs and is a regular participant in conference on discrimination in Israel and abroad and has been a virulent critic of government policy.

Unofficial sources at the time of his arrest said Makhoul was in contact with a number of foreign activists, some with links to groups classified by the government as terror organizations.

The arrests sparked outrage among Israeli Arab organizations and rights groups, who claim that activists disappear from their homes in the middle of the night. They also accuse the courts of being at the beck and call of security services, who often bar suspects from visits with lawyers or from obtaining legal counsel.

The complete IOA coverage of the arrest of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said

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