Haifa District Court is considering an appeal on behalf of Sheikh Raed Salah against his conviction and prison sentence handed down by the local Magistrates' Court last November. The veteran Palestinian activist is supposed to be serving 17 months in prison for "inciting terrorism" and "supporting a banned group", the Islamist movement in Israel that he headed before the government banned it in 2015.
Although the sentence imposed by the Magistrates' Court was meant to start in March, the Covid-19 pandemic prevented Sheikh Salah's imprisonment. His defence lawyers also filed the appeal against the verdict as a delaying tactic.
Sheikh Salah has been held under house arrest ever since and is subject to strict restrictions with an electronic tag. He is forbidden from communicating with anyone except for his close relatives.
"We have been able to postpone the implementation of the actual prison sentence against Sheikh Raed, because his health and safety is of great importance for our people, especially after the Magistrates Court refused to suspend the implementation of the verdict," explained lawyer Khaled Zabarqa. "Hence, we have tactically had to go to the central court to appeal against the conviction and prison sentence. The current risks to his health from the coronavirus are too serious to ignore."