Ramallah court acquits Palestinians who protested after Nizar Banat's death in PA detention
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.
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 Omar Assaf (left) and Zakaria Odeh arrested by the Palestinian security forces for protesting against the PA crackdown on political activists, academics and critics. Assaf was arrested hours after he was released from detention for participating in another protest. pic.twitter.com/FFQ1kDG68L— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) August 23, 2021
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.