Palestinian militia chief sentenced to 14 life terms

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The Independent Online

An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian militia leader yesterday to 14 terms of life in prison, plus 50 years, for orchestrating shooting attacks on Israelis over 31 months.

An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian militia leader yesterday to 14 terms of life in prison, plus 50 years, for orchestrating shooting attacks on Israelis over 31 months.

Nasser Awais, 33, is the most senior Palestinian convicted by an Israeli civil court since the current round of violence began in September 2000. Most suspected militants are tried by Israeli military tribunals.

Israeli prosecutors have said Awais is a top aide to Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian uprising leader on trial in Israel.

Awais is a co-founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militia linked to the ruling Fatah movement. Four of the founders are in Israeli jails, and one has been killed in an arrest raid.

The Tel Aviv District Court convicted Awais last week of involvement in attacks that killed 14 Israelis, including a shooting attack on a banquet hall in the central town of Hadera.

Also yesterday, Awais took the stand in the Barghouti trial. He said the Shin Bet security service extracted by force a confession regarding his ties with Barghouti. "I remember the torture during my interrogation and this is not my handwriting."

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