News from BRICUP
A request for an international presence in the trial of the Palestinian astrophysicist Professor Imad Barghouthi
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200
1049 Brussels, Belgium
Dear Madam, Sir,
We had occasion to write to you on May 4th about the detention without trial of the well-known Palestinian astrophysicist Professor Imad Barghouthi, who was arrested on April 24th. This was his second detention – in 2014/5 he was held for 47 days without charge or trial. International pressure contributed to Dr. Barghouthi's release on that previous occasion.
There have been more recent developments in this case which we think call for action from the EU. In a rare victory in such cases, an Israeli military court on May 26th granted Al-Barghouthi’s demand to be released from administrative detention. However he was not released. Instead on May 29th it was announced that his expected release had been cancelled after military prosecutors filed charges over statements the Al-Quds University professor allegedly made on Facebook.
This whole process is clearly highly irregular. If there was evidence to support a serious charge, why was he kept imprisoned for over a month without charge? When the court ordered his release why did it not happen? Any evidence to support a criminal charge has been available all along to Israeli military and civil authorities, and to the military court which ordered him to be released. Since it did not support a criminal charge prior to May 26th, how are we to understand the sudden discovery that it could carry this weight after an adverse judicial decision?
The misuse of the legal system in so vindictive a way leads to great doubt as to whether his trial on these new charges will be in accordance with due legal process.
The trial on these new charges is due to open on July 12th. In all the circumstances there must be grave doubts that Dr Al-Barghouthi’s human rights will be respected. We believe that an international presence in that court throughout his trial is a crucial safeguard if a continuation of the deeply prejudicial process which we have described above is to be avoided. We most earnestly request you to take all necessary steps to ensure that such an international presence is in fact in place.
Time is short, and we must ask you to let us know as soon as possible what progress has been made towards achieving this international presence.
Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair, British Committee for Universities
of Palestine (BRICUP)
Ivar Ekeland, President, Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
Herman De Ley, Steering Committee, Belgian Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI)