The trial of the Arab Knesset Member, Azmi Bishara (Balad) was resumed Sunday at the Upper Nazareth Magistrate's Court. Bishara is charged with "publicizing words of praise, sympathy and encouragement for acts of violence and supporting a terrorist organization," a crime that carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.
Dozens of Bishara supporters were expected to demonstrate in support of him outside the courthouse. The prosecution is expected to respond to the claims of Bishara's attorneys that the indictment submitted by Attorney General Elyakim Rubenstein is an act of "political persecution" of Bishara and his party.
According to Haaretz, Bishara's trial opened last February following two speeches he delivered at political conventions. In the first, delivered in Umm al-Fahm in August 2000, he allegedly praised Hizbullah for "ensuring that its guerrilla war against Israel would be well executed" and said that its "victory" over Israel gave him "the first taste of victory since the Six Day War and produced a spark of hope."
In the second, delivered in Kardaha, Syria in June 2001, Bishara - flanked by top members of Hizbullah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - allegedly called for "expanding the sphere of resistance" against "Israel's dictates" so that "people can carry on with the struggle."
Bishara and two of his assistants have also been charged with visiting a hostile country (Syria) and assisting Arab-Israelis visit relatives living in Syria. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )