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Human rights cases

Marwan Barghouti, Palestine

Experts have raised many concerns over Marwan Barghouti's detention and trial ©Reuters

Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouti has been in Israeli custody since being detained while on Palestinian territory in 2002. He was later found guilty of links to terrorist organizations in a trial seen as being marred by irregularities.

Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail after being found guilty in 2004 of orchestrating terrorist attacks and being a member of terrorist organizations.

He had been seized by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Ramallah two years earlier. Israel said he had links with groups including the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which carried out a wave of bombings and suicide attacks on Israeli troops and citizens between 2001 and 2005.

An IPU expert report on the court’s judgement concluded that “the numerous breaches of international law... make it impossible to conclude that Marwan Barghouti was given a fair trial”, and said his arrest on Palestinian territory and transfer to Israel were unlawful.

IPU is calling for his immediate release and has repeatedly expressed concern at the lack of respect shown to his parliamentary immunity, and at allegations he has suffered torture and ill-treatment.

Marwan Barghouti has limited visiting rights, which meant he was unable to see his mother again before she died in 2007.

Despite being in prison, he has been re-elected as MP for the Ramallah constituency in the West Bank and his popularity remains high. In a 2012 poll, 60 per cent of Palestinians said they would vote for him as President of the Palestinian Authority.

A life-long supporter of the Fatah movement founded by the late Yasser Arafat, Marwan Barghouti was first arrested by Israeli authorities in 1978 for being a member of an armed group. He spent four years in prison, where he completed his secondary education and became fluent in Hebrew.

Marwan Barghouti first came to prominence during the first intifada, an armed revolt which began in 1987 against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

The collapse of Israeli/Palestinian peace talks in 2000 sparked a second intifada, during which time Marwan Barghouti controlled Fatah in the West Bank and was chief of its armed wing, Tanzim.

He survived an assassination attempt by an Israeli missile in 2001, in which his bodyguard died.