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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Intifada leader 'faces mass murder trial'
Picture released by the Israeli army showing Marwan Barghouti being arrested by Israeli soldiers
Marwan Barghouti was arrested on Monday in Ramallah
The Palestinian intifada leader Marwan Barghouti will be put on trial in Israel for the "murder of hundreds of Israelis," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said.

Scene of suicide bombing in Jerusalem
Israel holds Barghouti responsible for suicide bombings
Mr Barghouti, who heads Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and the Tanzim militia in the West Bank, was arrested on Monday in Ramallah.

"He will be brought before an Israeli court for the murder of hundreds of Israelis, babies, children, women," Mr Sharon said on army radio.

Palestinians have warned Israel not to harm Mr Barghouti, who has been seen as a possible successor to Mr Arafat.

Palestinian anger

Israel suspects that Mr Barghouti is in charge of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, who have claimed numerous attacks on Israelis including suicide bombings - an association he has not admitted to.

Mr Sharon said his capture was "an extremely important success, without doubt one of the most important in our current military operation".

It is the justice of the powerful over the weak

Walid Massar
Radio station manager
"Like in every democratic country, he will be tried in Israel and put in prison," Mr Sharon said.

Palestinian West Bank security chief Jibril Rajoub warned that if Israel harmed Mr Barghouti it would face "catastrophes... and expand the circle of violence".

Mr Barghouti's arrest has provoked shock and anger in the West Bank.

"They say they want to try him, but we don't recognise their courts as legitimate," said Walid Massar, a manager at a local radio station, Ajyal, in response to Mr Barghouti's arrest.

"For us he is a leading political leader of our national struggle, not a military leader. He is also an elected parliamentarian. It's a shock to people here... It is the justice of the powerful over the weak," he said.

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell pushes for Mid-East truce
15 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell: Arafat not needed at talks
15 Apr 02 | Middle East
Jenin camp situation 'horrendous'
15 Apr 02 | Middle East
Gunfire erupts near Bethlehem church
15 Apr 02 | Americas
Thousands in US rally for Israel
30 Jul 01 | profiles
Fatah: Cornerstone of Arafat's power
16 Apr 02 | profiles
Profile: Marwan Barghouti
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