Ramallah court acquits Palestinians who protested after Nizar Banat's death in PA detention

Ramallah court acquits Palestinians who protested after Nizar Banat's death in PA detention
2 min read
West Bank
20 January, 2022
More than 30 Palestinian activists had been charged after taking part in protests that swept across the West Bank after Palestinian activist Nizar Banat died in Palestinian Authority detention last year.
Activists have been protesting the trial in front of the court at every hearing [Qassam Muaddi/The New Arab]

A court in Ramallah on Wednesday acquitted 11 Palestinians charged with sowing social dissent for taking part in the wave of protests that swept across the West Bank after the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat last year.

The activists were part of a larger group of 32 people who were charged with ‘insulting high dignities’ and ‘inciting sectarian discord’. Fourteen of the 32 have been already declared innocent of all charges.

Omar Assaf, a member of the Ramallah municipal council and one of the acquitted, said it had been "obvious" to the defendants that they would be found innocent.

“Even the judge expressed his surprise of the charges against us outside the courtroom,” Assaf told The New Arab.

The death of activist and critic Nizar Banat in Palestinian security force custody in June of last year sparked a wave of protests against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

In mid-December, a number of activists, including members of Banat’s family, said they were forming an "independent civil society committee" to demand justice for Banat.

The protest movement to demand justice for Nizar Banat, respect of public liberties and democratic elections will continue," Assaf said.

Activists have been protesting the trial in front of the court at every hearing, including Wednesday's session.

"These trials are political and they aim at suppressing all forms of civil protest in the Palestinian street,” activist Hamza Zbeidat told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed before the court's ruling.