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Israel charges militants with minister's killing

Written by: Staff
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JERUSALEM, May 12 (Reuters) Israeli state prosecutors today charged four Palestinian militants seized in a raid on a West Bank jail with the 2001 killing of an Israeli cabinet minister.

Israel accuses the four, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), of involvement in shooting dead Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel.

The PFLP said it killed Zeevi in retaliation for Israel's assassination of the group's leader Abu Ali Mustafa in 2001.

The four are due to enter a plea on June 8.

The militants were seized by Israeli troops along with PFLP chief Ahmed Saadat, in a raid on Jericho jail in March. Last month, Israel's Justice Ministry said it would not charge Saadat with Zeevi's killing due to insufficient evidence.

Palestinian judicial authorities say the four have already been convicted by a Palestinian court of killing Zeevi and should not be retried in Israel.

The militants were imprisoned in Jericho in 2002 under an internationally-brokered deal and held under supervision by US and British observers. Israeli troops forced their way into the jail after the observers left.

A sixth Palestinian seized in Jericho, Fuad al-Shobaki, may also face Israeli charges. An adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Shobaki is accused of masterminding a failed attempt to smuggle munitions into the Gaza Strip in 2002.

REUTERS PR RN1808

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