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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Intifada leader defiant at trial
Marwan Barghouti
Barghouti is seen as a successor to Yasser Arafat
One of the Palestinian uprising's leaders has defended the revolt at his trial in Israel on murder charges.

Marwan Barghouti, West Bank leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, said he was proud of the uprising - known as the intifada - which is now in its fourth year.

In his closing statement before a three-judge panel in Tel Aviv, Mr Barghouti - who has refused legal representation and had previously presented no defence of his own - spoke for nearly an hour.

He has been on trial in Israel for more than a year, charged with orchestrating ambushes and suicide bombings that killed 26 Israelis.

He who dies not fight occupation is not a human being - he has no dignity
Marwan Barghouti
Wearing a brown prison uniform, Mr Barghouti stood as he addressed the three judges, turning often to the public gallery.

He said the intifada was the result of Israel's military occupation of Palestinian territory, the building of Jewish settlements there and the failure of the Oslo peace process

"I am proud of the intifada," he told the court. "I am proud of the resistance to Israeli occupation. To die is better than living under occupation. I am standing here because I resisted Israeli occupation...

"Today three years have passed and I hope the Israelis have learned that the Palestinian people can not be brought to yield with force."

Mr Barghouti again told the court that he did not recognise its right to try him.

"I was abducted... from my abode under Palestinian jurisdiction as recognised by the governments of both sides."

Verdict

After Mr Barghouti had finished speaking and sat down, lead prosecutor Devorah Chen told the court that he had damaged his case by not addressing the charges against him.

She then asked the judges when a verdict might be expected, at which Mr Barghouti interjected: "You've already made up your minds, why wait?"

He then told the prosecutor: "Don't worry, I'll get out soon, don't worry."

Mr Barghouti, 43, who is seen as a possible successor to Mr Arafat, was arrested last year.

His trial began in April 2002 and a verdict is expected by the end of the year.

He learnt Hebrew during a previous spell in an Israeli prison.




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