Court Cancels Indictments against Arab Bedouin Leader Protesting against Home Demolitions in Al-Araqib Village in the Naqab (Negev)

10/10/2012

(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) – Today, the Magistrate Court of Beer el-Sabe (Beer Sheva) cancelled the indictment against Sheikh Sayyah Abu Medeghem and his son Aziz of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Naqab (Negev), following arguments by Adalah. The police accused Sheikh Sayyah and his son with trespassing on state land and illegally constructing and staying in tents on the land.

Attorney Orna Kohn argued that the charges were too broad and did not include any criminal offense. “A charge of trespassing on state land must include criminal intent, such as threatening to or claiming ownership of the land, and the prosecutor does not have evidence of this from the police.” The court accepted Attorney Kohn’s arguments and cancelled the indictment, strongly criticizing the way in which the police force handled the case.

Following the court hearing, Sheikh Sayyah stated that, “The State of Israel failed to destroy the village of Al-Araqib through demolitions and displacement, so it has now resorted to baseless criminal charges to deter the people of the village from holding onto their land.” He added: “We hope that this decision creates a precedent to cancel all the indictments against the people of Al-Araqib. I also commend the work of Adalah and Attorney Orna Kohn on this case. We hope to see more victories in the future.”

UN ECOSOC