Balad Chairman Bishara: I Cannot Receive a Fair Trial in Israel

Police source: Bishara will be arrested upon return to Israel; Balad chair accused of aiding enemy in wartime.

Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara, who is currently being investigated for a number of security violations, said Thursday that he does not believe he will receive a fair trial in Israel.

In an interview with the Nazareth-based A-Shams radio, Bishara said, "We don?t believe that in this atmosphere of incitement ? we will receive a fair trial."

He added that he does not fear the severe sentence he is expected to receive if convicted. A police source said Thursday that Bishara would be arrested the moment he returned to the country, Israel Radio reported.

A gag order on the investigation against Bishara was partially lifted Wednesday, revealing that the former MK is accused of aiding the enemy during wartime, passing information on to the enemy and contacts with a foreign agent, including during the Second Lebanon War.

He is also suspected of money laundering for receiving large sums of money that were transferred from abroad while he was an MK.

Bishara has denied the accusations, telling A-Shams radio that Hezbollah has more security-related information on Israel than he does. "Who is further from information than Israeli Arabs? We are very removed from any information that we could give," he said.

Bishara harshly criticized the Israeli establishment, saying senior Israeli officials must be tried for war crimes against Lebanon and the Palestinians. 'In that month of July they killed children in Lebanon," he said. "I remember my tears and the tears of the people over those children.

"After eight months they've come to me," he continued. "Have they been cleansed [of their sins] in this period? Baptized? Become religious? They want to try those who condemned the aggression against Lebanon, and that is unacceptable."

During the interview, Bishara mentioned said that when he left Israel, he was unaware that it would be for so long. The former MK said he misses his family, and lamented the fact that he left with little money. "Now I will have to find a job," he said.

Bishara left Israel after being questioned under caution by police for a second time in the affair, and had promised investigators he would soon return.

"In the last meeting with investigators," said a police statement issued Wednesday , "Bishara told them that he intends to leave the country for a few days. He said he would return for the remaining questioning and a date for the next meeting was set. After he failed to arrive on that date ... a number of different dates were given on his behalf. Despite his promises, Bishara did not arrive for further questioning.

"In accordance with the attorney general's instructions, he was informed that he must arrive for questioning by January 22, but did not do so. Investigators still expect and hope that he will return for the remainder of the questioning, as he promised."