IDF court charges Palestinian parliament speaker with membership in outlawed organization
Abdel Aziz Duaik says he doesn't recognize court's authority; next hearing set for August 31.
The Palestinian parliament speaker was led in shackles into an Israel Defense Forces court Tuesday and charged with membership in an outlawed organization - becoming the most senior of three dozen top Hamas officials rounded up by Israel to be indicted so far.
The speaker, Abdel Aziz Duaik, said he does not recognize the court's authority. "It is a political trial, and I don't recognize it," Duaik said. "I am an elected official."
Duaik was brought into the courtoom in the Ofer Prison Camp with his feet shackled. He wore a brown pajama-style outfit, and his normally long beard was trimmed.
The military prosecutor charged Duaik with membership and activity in an outlawed organization. It was not immediately clear how many years he could face in prison. The next hearing was set for August 31.
The prosecutor said that at one point, Duaik called Hamas' supreme leader, Khaled Meshal, and asked for large sums of money. However, that allegation was not part of the indictment.
In all, Israel has arrested 30 Hamas lawmakers and five Cabinet ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer, in recent weeks. Duaik said Shaer became his cellmate Monday.
Duaik's lawyers complained that he was being held in unsanitary conditions and that his cell was full of cockroaches. Duaik was arrested earlier this month.
At one point, he was taken to a Jerusalem hospital after complaining of chest pains. His lawyers said he also has a kidney problem.