Israel to Free Hamas Parliament Speaker Aziz Dweik
Story Code : 6840
The court at the Ofer military base near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank rejected an application by prosecutors to keep Aziz Dweik behind bars after his three-year sentence ran out, his attorney Fadi Qawasmeh told AFP. "The rejection means that he can't be detained for more than 48 hours," Qawasmeh said. "I expect him to be freed within the coming hours."
His actual release may not come before Sunday as Friday marks the start of the Jewish weekend when by convention court orders are not served.
Dweik was elected speaker in February 2006, a month after Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in a surprise rout of the long dominant Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas.
He was arrested by Israeli occupation security forces at his Ramallah home in August 2006 amid a West Bank crackdown on Hamas in which more than 60 elected officials were detained, including a third of the then government and more than two dozen MPs. Some were later released, but at least 35 remain in custody.
In December 2008, an Israeli military court sentenced Dweik to three years in prison - including the 28 months he had already served - for membership of Hamas, which Israel like the European Union and the United States blacklists as a “terror group”.