Northern Islamic Movement Leader Sentenced to Jail

The Haifa Magistrate's Court on Wednesday sentenced Northern Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah, who has admitted to committing security offenses, to three and a half years imprisonment and three years of suspended sentence.

Four other senior Islamic movement members, who together with Salah were accused of funneling cash to Hamas, were also sentenced to imprisonment.

The five were arrested in May 2003 and indicted for contact with foreign agents and providing services for illegal groups. The Supreme Court has extended their remand twice since then.

Mahmoud Mahadjna was sentenced to four and half years imprisonment and three years of suspended sentence.

The court sentenced the three others, including the former mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Suleiman Akbaria, to two and half years in jail and three years of suspended jailed term.

However, according to a plea bargain reached Tuesday night, Salah will be released from administrative detention in six months.

As a result of the plea bargain, Salah will be released after having served a third of the 42 months he was sentenced to serve for the offenses. The maximum sentence for contact with foreign agents is 15 years.

Under the same plea bargain Akbaria and two other convicts will be released in the next few days after their sentence is reduced by two thirds.

Supporters have held weekly protests in Jerusalem and Umm al-Fahm to secure their release.