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Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 09:48 UK

Israel frees nine Hamas lawmakers

Abdel Aziz Duaik, left, greets released Hamas lawmaker Nasser Abed Jawad 2.9.09
The MPs had been in prison for three years

Israel has released nine Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament after the completion of their prison terms.

The politicians had served more than three years in jail, charged with belonging to an illegal organisation.

They were among more than 30 MPs from the Islamist movement arrested in the wake of the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Palestinian officials said the trials were illegal and politically motivated.

Twenty four Hamas members of parliament are currently in Israeli custody. The speaker of the assembly, Aziz Dweik, was released in June. The speaker of the assembly, Aziz Dweik, was released in June.

A Hamas MP said Wednesday's release was not a goodwill gesture. Israel has not commented on the move.

Hamas won 2006 elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, the decision-making body for the Palestinian Authority.

The body is not currently sitting, with the Hamas members still in detention and a bitter feud dividing Hamas and its rival Fatah.



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