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Middle East
Palestinian politician sentenced
Ahmed Saadat, PFLP head, given 30-year jail term by Israeli court in minister's murder case.
Last Modified: 25 Dec 2008 19:10 GMT
 Israeli forces seized Saadat in March 2006 in a controversial raid on a Jericho prison [AFP]

An Israeli military court has sentenced Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), to 30 years in prison for heading a "terrorist organisation."

Saadat, 54, is a father of four and a veteran of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

"Ahmed Saadat is guilty ... because of his position and activities within the (PFLP) terrorist movement," an Israeli army statement said on Thursday.

"Given the status of the accused within this terrorist  organisation, given the actions put in place to develop the movement's military structures and given that ... the fighters (of  the organisation) were under his command, the court sentences him to  30 years in prison," the statement said.

When Israeli forces seized Saadat in March 2006 in a controversial raid on a Palestinian-run prison in Jericho, he stood accused of planning the 2001 murder of Rehavam Zeevi, Israel's tourism minister at the time.

Prosecutors later decided not to pursue this case against Saadat, instead pressing the charges against four PFLP fighters who were seized along with him in Jericho.

Palestinian reaction

The PFLP decribed the verdict as political.

"When the Israelis arrested him, they accused him of having killed Zeevi, but this accusation did not appear in the sentencing which proves that his arrest was political and was not related to security issues," Khalida Jarar, a PFLP member, said.

Zeevi, 75 at the time of his death, was shot at a hotel in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem on October 17, 2001.

The PFLP claimed the killing of Zeevi after its leader Abu Ali Mustafa was assassinated by Israeli troops.

Zeevi was an ultra rightwinger and supported the ideology of  "transfer", which would see all Palestinians in the West Bank and  Gaza Strip expelled to neighbouring Arab countries.

Source:
Agencies
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