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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Palestinian sentenced for attacks
Nasser Awais in court, flanked by Israeli police
Awais was convicted by a civil court

An Israeli court has sentenced a militant Palestinian leader to life imprisonment for masterminding attacks that killed 14 Israelis and injured dozens of others.

Nasser Awis was given four consecutive life sentences, plus another 50 years' imprisonment for planning and carrying out a series of attacks.

He is alleged to be a senior commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - which has been linked to the Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - and a senior aide of Marwan Barghouti.

Mr Barghouti, the West Bank Fatah leader, is also being tried in an Israeli civil court on terrorism charges.

Nasser Awis, 33, has refused to co-operate with the trial, saying the court represents Israeli occupation.

'Manipulation'

He also denied having confessed any military link to Mr Barghouti and said his affidavit had been forged by Israeli intelligence, the French news agency AFP reported.

"This is another manipulation against the Palestinians... The Israeli people should understand they have no future as long as the occupation continues," he was quoted as telling the court.

Marwan Barghouti
Barghouti: Most senior Palestinian official in Israeli custody

Nasser Awis was convicted of involvement in a number of attacks, including one on a Tel Aviv restaurant, another on a banquet hall in the central town of Hadera, and a hotel in the coastal town of Netanya.

Mr Barghouti, the secretary general of the Fatah Movement, is accused by Israel of heading a terrorist organisation responsible for the death of 26 Israelis.

However, he too refuses to recognise the competence of the Israeli court.

Mr Barghouti was arrested in April 2002, but his trial did not start in earnest until last month.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade emerged shortly after the outbreak of the current Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

The brigade is neither officially recognised nor openly backed by Mr Arafat and Fatah, though brigade members tend also to be members of Fatah.




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