Translation: Marganit W.
Week of Passover
Judge: Sgt.-Major Ronen Atzmon
Naal Samir Habib Halabi – Case No. 1531/11
Defense: Iliya Theodory
Charge: membership in a student association: the respondent was chairman of the election committee of an organization that arranges parties and ceremonies, publishes a paper and has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The appeal was lodged by the prosecution, which demands detention until the conclusion of the proceedings. An earlier court had released him.
The court’s decision was based on mistaken identity. The respondent was described as redheaded and fair skinned (he has black hair and is swarthy), and yet the prosecution bases its case on that identification, as well as on the statement of an incriminator who had left the organization in 2009, before the period relevant to the case; however, he participated in elections in 2009 and 2010. The prosecution also complained about the 7-month delay in presenting the indictment, citing earlier cases where judges ruled that delay does not minimize the risk. In this case the risk is based on the fact that the respondent has a suspended sentence of 18 months for 5 years, starting on 12.9.06 for the same violation. Even if there is a fault in the identification, the earlier court’s decision to release the accused, because of the suspended sentence needs to be changed because of the suspended sentence.
Attorney Theodory, representing the respondent, raised a general objection to the way the police conducts its identification line-up, which consists of presenting only a picture of the suspect and asking leading questions. He argued that the court ignored the fact that 24 photos have to be shown, not just 7 or 8, and in each case the suspect’s photo should be inserted in between the other seven, while an attorney is present.
The attorney asked the court not to rely on the incriminator’s testimony in this case, since he had left the organization before the relevant period. In addition, the respondent says he was studying journalism at the time, while his accuser said he studied sociology. Theodory cited a case in which a member of the Popular Front was released, and the prosecution did not appeal. In addition, the respondent had to pay a fine of 15,000 shekels. His father lives in Jerusalem and his mother lives in the Occupied Territories, which the defense claims, minimizes the flight risk.
In sum, the attorney moves to reject the appeal.
(Both parents were present in court and carried on a “conversation” with their son from their seats in the back of the hall).
The judge did not hand down a decision, nor did he indicate when he might do so.
Nabil Muhammad Ali Abu Saifan – Case No. 1477/11
An elderly man. His son (about 30) sat in the hall, but there was no eye contact between the two. A plea bargain was reached adding 3 months to a suspended sentence for a year. The charge is possession of a gun and bullets. So far the accused has been in detention for 75 days.
Atty. Firas, who represented him in the trial, was not part of the agreement: it had been arranged with another attorney.
Saleh Muhammad Saleh Shamasna – Case No. 1522/11
Charge: throwing rocks on ten occasions.
The prosecutor says that the language of the incrimination indicates intensive activity on the part of the respondent. He cites a decision stipulating that in cases of violent disturbances, the threshold of evidence needn’t be high. As for arguments for release, which cited the respondent’s age and his clean record, the prosecutor claimed that it was not a one-time occurrence, which warrants consideration: the period in which the violations were committed span over 5 months.
Atty. Nubani pointed out that at first the respondent’s name was not included in a list of violators, only later was his name added. The judge showed the defense a list of incriminated people and pointed out that the respondent’s name was first on the list. The attorney retracted his claim, saying it was “a grocery list”.
Other defendants claimed that they did not know the respondent; some denied that he had participated in rock throwing. The defense asked for consideration for his client’s young age and his clean record and requested that he be allowed to go back to school, especially in view of the fact that he had posted a 10,000-shekel bail.
The prosecution again stated that the respondent had admitted he knew the incriminator, thus any claim about mistaken identity should be rejected.
No decision was handed down and no mention of when it might be.
Yussuf Awwida – Case No. 1484/11
The detainee asked to defer his hearing because he wished to be represented by Atty Abu Amer, who apparently was not informed about the hearing today. The detainee was aware that this might prolong his detention. Surprisingly, the prosecution asked that this procedure not be repeated, even though the accused was already detained until the conclusion of the proceedings, since the hearing of this case had already been deferred twice. The judge acceded to the defendant’s request, so he could have the representation he wanted.
The hearing was set for 1.5.11 (until that date there are no hearings in this court because of a Druze holiday).
Appeal in the case of Musaeb Rashdi Rashad Atrash – Case No. 1521/11
and Aata Said Yacub Abu Ramuz – Case No. 1520/11
Atty. Ahmad Munbir stated that an internal police investigation is underway regarding the allegation that the police attacked these boys (who themselves are accused of attacking a policeman). According to the defense, the boys went to the Cave of the Patriarchs to hand out invitations for the wedding of Musaeb’s brother. There was some pushing and shoving at the Southern gate, which resulted with the boys being accused of pushing a soldier (who was not hurt). When the boys lodged a complaint at the Kiryat Arba police station that THEY had been pushed by security forces, the policemen cursed and beat them; as a result Musaeb’s arm was broken. The cast is now off the arm, but Musaeb has to undergo an operation on his pinky (the attorney points to the digit). The two boys have been in custody for almost 40 days, and consequently Musaeb missed his brother’s wedding. The attorney noted that such cases usually end up with a deposit at the police station, but in this case the police used excessive force. Moreover, no videos were shown as evidence of the incident where the alleged pushing occurred, even though there are at least 20 cameras there. The attorney requests alternative to detention.
The prosecutor counters that the police acted lawfully and used reasonable force.
The judge asks the prosecutor what the penalty would be if they were convicted: the punishment may not exceed time already served in detention. The prosecutor did not know the answer. He said several policemen testified about the defendants’ conduct and that testimony was sufficient, hence no videos were necessary. He argued for ‘endangerment’ since every attack on security forces constitutes endangerment. Musaeb has a prior violation: he was accused of possessing a knife and did not show up to one hearing in his case.
The attorney explained why his client did not show up, describing the hardships involved in trying to come to court from South Hebron Mountain: the hours-long wait at the checkpoints and the 100 shekel travel expense (when the daily wage is 50).
The judge concluded the hearing by requesting the prosecution to produce a video of the incident, if one exists (the prosecutor argued against it). He also reminded the prosecutor to find out what the punishment would be if the defendants are found guilty (they may have already exceeded the jail term).