EU protests conviction of West Bank activist Tamimi
(BRUSSELS) - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed strong concern Tuesday over the weekend conviction of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi.
A statement from Ashton's office said she was "very concerned" over Tamimi's May 20 conviction by an Israeli military court for taking part in illegal demonstrations and soliciting protesters to throw stones.
"The EU considers Bassem Tamimi to be a 'human rights defender' committed to non-violent protest against the expansion of an Israeli settlement on lands belonging to his West Bank village of Nabi Saleh," the statement added.
"The EU attended all court hearings in his case and is concerned at the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was interrogated in violation of his rights.
"The EU believes that everyone should be able to exercise their legitimate right to protest in a nonviolent manner."
Tamimi, 45, was charged with soliciting stone-throwing based on evidence that he directed such incidents from the rooftops.
He was arrested on March 24, 2011, and accused of organising illegal gatherings and incitement in connection with a series of weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh village in protest at Jewish settlers taking over their land.
He was released on bail on April 24, 2012, after his elderly mother suffered a stroke, although he was kept under house arrest in Ramallah.
Tamimi's arrest sparked international condemnation, with Amnesty International declaring him a prisoner of conscience.
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