- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 19 (UPI) — An Israeli court Sunday ruled that Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti could stand trial on murder charges.

The court set an April 6 date for the trial of the leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, which has been blamed for several terrorist attacks inside Israel.

Barghouti has rejected Israel's authority to try him, saying he is an elected member of the Palestinian parliament and was seized illegally when he was traveling through the West Bank last year.

"The state of Israel doesn't have the right to try me or accuse me," he told the court Sunday. "I am fighting for the rights of my people against the cruel occupation."

The Tel Aviv District Court's three-judge panel did not give its reasons to allow Barghouti's trial.

Israel says Barghouti played a key role in attacks by Fatah's Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigade that killed 26 people.

Barghouti, who has refused legal representation, will get a court-appointed lawyer.

Israel radio reported that Barghouti entered the court and shouted pro-intifada slogans. Parents of those killed by Palestinian attacks called him a murderer and several of them had to be removed from the courtroom.


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