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Barghouti Remains Defiant During Israeli Court Appearance - 2002-08-14

A popular leader of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, Marwan Barghouti, has appeared briefly in a Tel Aviv court to face charges of murder and of orchestrating violence against Israelis. The trial was adjourned and is to reconvene September 5.

Dressed in a brown prison suit and raising his handcuffed wrists above his head, Marwan Barghouti remained defiant as he entered the packed courtroom. He called out in Hebrew that the uprising, or Intifada, would win in the end.

Mr. Barghouti spoke to reporters in Arabic, Hebrew and English, saying he is a man of peace and worked for a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Everyone knows that Marwan Barghouti is fighting for peace. I'm a peace man. I was trying to do everything for peace between the two peoples," he said.

He said he believes in a two-state solution and predicted peace would come only through the end of Israeli occupation.

Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian legislator and the leader of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement in the West Bank. He was arrested April 15 and has been charged with murder, attempted murder, and inciting and orchestrating violence against Israelis. He could face life in prison if convicted.

Wednesday's trial opening was brief. The charges against Mr. Barghouti were read out during a 15 minute session. The hearing was then adjourned, and the trial is to reconvene September 5.

The Palestinian leader denies the charges and says he is a political prisoner.

Israeli authorities hope to show that Mr. Barghouti and Fatah became directly involved in attacks against Israel. The prosecution will try to show that Mr. Barghouti financed and orchestrated attacks carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed group linked to Fatah.

Mr. Barghouti and his lawyers will instead try to put the focus on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.