Friday 21 May 2004
Intifada 'will continue'
TEL AVIV: Palestinian firebrand Marwan Barghouti defiantly accused Israel of trying to quench the intifada when a Tel Aviv court found him guilty yesterday on several counts of murder in the uprising's highest-profile trial.
The West Bank Fatah chief told the court in Hebrew he was ready to die in prison but would never give up his struggle.
And one of his lawyers said Barghouti would not appeal against any sentence he is given.
The prosecution recommended that Barghouti, still tipped by many as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's successor, receive five life sentences for murder and another 40 years for attempted murder when he appears for sentencing on June 6, his 45th birthday.
Barghouti, also a member of the Palestinian parliament, was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court for direct responsibility in four attacks that killed five people. He had been charged with 26 counts of murder.
Immediately afterwards, he vowed there would be no end to the intifada as long as the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continues.
"So long as the occupation continues, the intifada will not stop.
"As long as the Palestinian mothers are weeping, Israeli mothers will also weep," warned Barghouti, who was charged with heading the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Arafat's mainstream Fatah group that has carried out a string of deadly anti-Israeli attacks.
The group he allegedly created and headed until his April 2002 capture promised to abduct Israeli soldiers to negotiate Barghouti's release.
"We will make the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers our number one priority for the release of Marwan Barghouti and to release all our leaders and prisoners in Israeli jails," a spokesman for the group said.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade said it would kidnap Israeli soldiers to secure the release of West Bank Fatah chief Marwan Barghouti.
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