Jericho prisoners to be in Israel for a long time

Israeli officials said Wednesday that they are determined to put Palestinian prisoners seized from a West Bank jail on trial for the killing of an Israeli Cabinet minister, but will first have to overcome some legal hurdles.

Ahmed Saadat, leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and five other Palestinians wanted by Israel were caught in an Israeli raid Tuesday on the prison in the West Bank town of Jericho. Saadat masterminded the 2001 assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.

"We have every intention to bring him to trial," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said legal authorities must first make sure that Israel can retry Saadat.

Israeli law prevents so-called double jeopardy, in which a suspect is tried twice for the same crime, legal commentator Moshe Negbi said. Saadat's London-based lawyer, Daniel Machover, said in a telephone interview that Saadat was never convicted or tried by Palestinian authorities.

Despite the legal questions, Israel intends on keeping Saadat and the others, Livni told Army Radio.

"I have no doubt that they will stay with us for a long time," Livni said, reports the AP.


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