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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Barghouti faces more 'solitary'
Marwan Barghouti
Barghouti is a hugely popular figure with the Palestinian people
An Israeli court has ordered prominent Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti to remain in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison for a further six months.

Mr Barghouti, the West Bank head of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, is on trial for multiple murder charges relating to shooting attacks against Israelis.

He has already spent the past six months of his detention in isolation.

It had been speculated that he was to be among those Palestinian prisoners released under the terms of the US-backed roadmap to peace.

He denies all the charges.

'Political trial'

Mr Barghouti said on Monday that he had no faith that the Israeli court - which he refuses to recognise - would reach an objective verdict.

"This is a political trial - the attorney general has decided, the security services have decided," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

Mr Barghouti also condemned comments made by Israel's attorney general in a letter about the possibility of his release, saying they prejudged the outcome of his trial.

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein had written a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in June in which he referred to Mr Barghouti as a "first-rate architect of terrorism".

Sara Sirota, one of three judges on Mr Barghouti's case, was quoted by court officials as saying that Mr Rubenstein's comments had been inappropriate.

A statement from the Israeli Justice Ministry said that Mr Rubenstein had not intended to usurp the court.

Mr Barghouti was arrested 15 months ago during an Israeli incursion into the West Bank town of Ramallah in response to Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli targets.

Prosecutors said he was involved in attacks that killed 26 Israelis after fighting began in September 2000.

Mr Barghouti is a hugely popular figure with Palestinians and was widely considered to be a potential successor to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

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