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Trial for PA officers accused of killing critic delayed after lawyer a no-show

15 7 6

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The long-anticipated opening hearing in the trial of Palestinian Authority security officials implicated in the death of a prominent critic was postponed at the last minute on Tuesday morning after the defense attorney failed to show.

The hearing was slated to be a preliminary one, albeit dramatic with the charge sheet against the 14 security officers who allegedly beat opposition activist Nizar Banat to death slated to be read aloud.

Banat’s death during a raid of his Hebron hideout caused widespread outrage and saw rare protests against the PA, which were forcefully suppressed by its security forces. The crackdown also sparked debate over what rights groups pan as Ramallah’s tightening restrictions against civil society and free expression.

On Tuesday morning, a wall of rifle-bearing PA officers stood in front of the courtroom entrance, blocking the public from seeing the faces of the accused as they entered the hall.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the intense public interest in the trial, a small courtroom was chosen that could only fit around 35 observers. Less than a dozen journalists and diplomats were allowed to join them, as dozens of their colleagues were forced to wait outside.

But just a few minutes into the hearing, the trial was adjourned and delayed for another week when it became clear that the lawyer for the accused Palestinian officers, Faris Sharab, was not going to make it.

Ghandi Rubi, a lawyer representing the Banat........

© The Times of Israel

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