Middle East

Israeli court frees Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi

Bassem Tamimi stands outside Israel's Ofer military court near the town of Ramallah in the West Bank on 20 May.
Image caption The EU has criticised the arrest of Bassem Tamimi and called him a 'defender of human rights'.

A Palestinian activist convicted of urging young people to throw stones has been freed by an Israeli court.

Bassem Tamimi, a 45-year old school teacher, was given a suspended sentence after spending 13 months in jail awaiting trial.

He was arrested in March 2011. He was also convicted of taking part in illegal gatherings.

Tamimi led weekly protests against Jewish settlers who had seized a well in Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank.

He was convicted on 20 May, when he was also cleared of two other more serious charges, including perverting the course of justice.

The judge presiding over Tuesday's hearing at Ofer military court near Ramallah said Tamimi's sentence would be activated if in the future he urges people to throw stones, the AFP news agency reported.

Tamimi told the AFP: "I feel that my whole life is under the surveillance of the judge... The suspended sentence is not going to stop me from being active but it is going to put me under a lot of pressure."

Mr Tamimi was released on bail in April in order to take care of his elderly mother who had suffered a stroke.

The European Union criticised Israel for his arrest and detention and called Tamimi a "human rights defender".

The prosecution's case against him was based largely on confessions from two boys aged 14 and 15.

Some activists said the confessions were obtained without the presence of a lawyer and violated the boys' human rights.

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