Translation: Marganit W.
As you all know, we cover only a minute number of hearings of the military courts and only a tiny fraction of the proceedings are revealed to us. And yet, over the last six years, we have noted a few salient characteristics of the conduct and the activity of the arm of the occupation known as the “Military Court”. Today, for example, the hearings were a veritable ‘conveyor belt’; all the detainees in the cases we witnessed were arrested after being incriminated by others, and the charges were violations committed in the last few days as well as the last few months or even years.
A joint docket of Courtrooms 1 and 2 included 65 names of “Days Detainees” brought in for remand extensions. Some were minors (reportedly kids under 12 years old - which is the age of criminal culpability – whose hearings we did not attend). Those detainees were brought before the judge for the first time since their arrest.
In Courtroom 3 a ‘reserves duty’ judge (probably due to the holiday) named Wolf presided.
Two defendants were charged with drug dealing. They were represented by two attorneys: Abu Ahmad and Abir Merar. The discussion was about the quality and quantity of the pills purchased and hidden (it was alleged) in the underwear of one of them, and discovered at the checkpoint. It was not clear to the judge, the prosecutor and the defense if the pills in question were Viagra or Ecstasy. The only thing that was clear was that the two were detained “until the conclusion of the proceedings”.
Since we did not attend the entire sessions we are not sure why this case was processed in a military court.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Shmuel Kadmani
Prosecutor: Capt. Avishai Kaplan
Waspi Nafez Oda Zeita,ID 949959977 –Case 2397/13
Accused of carrying a weapon in the year 2011.
Waspi accepts the charges and Atty. Haled Alaraj reaches a plea bargain with the prosecution. The judge accepts it and pronounces his decision:
31 days in prison from the day of arrest, 3 months suspended sentence for 3 years (to ensure that he does not repeat the offense or any other offense relating to arms possession), a 7000 shekel fine or 7 months incarceration.
The agreement (approved by the judge without hesitation) states that Waspi has no prior conviction; for a brief period he held a gun belonging to the Palestinian Authority, making no use of it. He showed the gun to someone. Admission of guilt was a condition for obtaining a plea bargain, but the charge lacked sufficient evidence to convict!
It is a vain hope that one of these days a judge will pause to consider one of these hundreds of plea-bargains and determine that it is a trumped up arrest. There is no such term as “trumped up arrest” in the lexicon of the military courts.
Ahmad Salim Taher Ziud,ID 993177864 –Case 2439/13
Ziud was arrested on Friday at a Checkpoint.
The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation. The defendant states that a checkpoint policeman had told him he did not need a check-up because he is over 55. When he entered the checkpoint he was arrested. Atty Abu Yakoub requests a 6-day postponement to reach an agreement with the prosecution. The judge approves (until 2.4.13).
Bahaa Issa Muhamad Bashar,ID 854839628 –Case 2392/13
The detainee, 18 years old, is accused of throwing rocks at security forces, together with 20 other people. He was implicated by three soldiers who were on the spot. The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation, invoking endangerment and the fact that another participant in the incident was detained by the court until the conclusion of the investigation.
Bahaa rejects the allegations. He claims not to know why he is detained.
His attorney, Nasser Nubani, explains that Bahaa was on his way home from work when he encountered a demonstration near his home. He was present there without throwing any stones, he has no prior convictions, and the soldiers’ testimony is prima facie evidence.
The judge decides to detain him until the conclusion of the investigation.
Arraignment date set for 2.4.13.
Judge: Major Avri Einhorn
Two plain cloth investigators bring in the suspect, Alaa Muhammad Ahsa Hadr, ID 402195853 for remand extension.
Alaa, 16 years old, has already been detained for 4 days but has not been interrogated.
The charge is throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and involvement in shooting.
The investigators request 15 days remand.
Atty. Munther Abu Ahmad states that Alaa is a minor and that until his court appearance he has not been given a reason for his detention. The investigators’ answers reveal that the charges are based on incriminations, some by other detainees. The charges refer to incidents in the recent as well as in the distant past that took place at different locations on Route 443 as well as in his village. The defense moves for reduced detention and asks for judicial supervision of the investigators.
The judge orders 15 days remand (until 7.4.13). At the defense’ request the judge orders the detainee held in the court compound until 15:00 to allow him to appeal the court’s remand decision.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Avri Einhorn
Police Intvestigator: Omri Awida
Defense: Firas Sabah
There were 8 cases in the docket – four of them of detainees barred from conferring with their attorney. In three cases plea bargains had been negotiated between the sides.
Raafan Mahmoud Mussa Hayan – ID 921045200
Charge: planning and participating in a terrorist attack against the settlement of Migdal Oz, throwing incendiary bottles and membership in “Shuhada Al-Aksa”.
The detainee has been barred from meeting his attorney until today, 11.2.13 at 23:59.
The police investigator requested 15-day remand extension to complete the investigation.
The defense objected to the remand extension. Even though this is the first extension in this case, the defendant has been cooperative, he made a statement to the police, and “according to my colleague’s statement” he ties himself to the allegations.
Roni and I decided not to show the judge the document that recommends allowing us, representatives of the public, to remain in the courtroom while the defense has to leave (to prevent contact with the defendant): this judge has already voiced his opinion of the High Court of Justice’s recommendation [see report from 14.1.13]. When the Investigator saw that we were not leaving, he immediately declared a “closed doors hearing” – rather too easily, we thought. The judge accepted this declaration without hesitation, and we saw no point in repeating the futile ritual. We left the courtroom, the detainee was led in and the judge declared a 15-day remand extension.
Mahmoud Daoud Haled Alhabal – ID 853934909
Charge: membership and activity in Hamas.
The Police Investigator requested 11-day remand extension.
Atty. Sabah represented the detainee, instead of Atty. Quasme.
The Investigator stated that his unit would try to complete the interrogation as quickly as possible and transfer the case to the prosecution. There would not be another extension.
The defense objected to the police request. The detainee has already been interrogated for a long time without much progress. He denies the allegations and has given a statement to the police on 7.2.12.
The charges are based on incriminations.
The judge’s decision: After having examined the file and the reports, he decides on an 8- day remand extension. If necessary, there will be another extension later.
Nur Aladin Abed Al-Rahman Ibrahim Alaeruri – ID 852459551
Imad Wajia Abe Al-Jawad Salah – ID 850292756
Both detainees are barred from seeing an attorney. They are both charged with membership and military activity in Hamas, as well as with endangering security in the region.
The police requested 15-day remand extension to complete the investigation.
From the defense’s questions we gather that they are suspected of planning and initiating the alleged violation.
The detainees were interrogated face to face, but not by the police.
The defense asked to cut short the period of interrogations.
We left the court and the Russian Compound.
Translation: Diana Rubanenko
Judge: Col. Shmuel Keidar
Police investigator: Omri Aweideh
Defence attorneys: Ahlam Haddad, Firas Sabbah, Fadi Qawasme, Judd Kadmani
Today was the second remand extension for a group of minors from the village Hussan, who threw stones; one stone hit a passing car and caused an accident in which a woman was injured.
The minors were arrested on 1.12.12. Today relatives were allowed to enter the court and talk to the detainees. The family tried to give the minors clean clothes, but the delivery - through a designated window - was not allowed. The judge asked to transfer the minutes (concerning all the detainees) to the commander of the detention centre, who is required to reply to the President of the Court in Judea - in writing, within 7 days - whether the handing over of clean clothes to suspects is a regular procedure, or specific to these suspects. Concerning the current case: he requested that the person in charge of security checks will examine the clothes in the screening machine, and allow the suspects to receive the clothes their families brought. Attorney Qawasmeh added that it is a serious problem, since most of the detainees are residents of the Occupied Territories, whose relatives cannot come to Jerusalem and bring them clothes. Until not long ago, lawyers were able to transfer the clothes the families sent. Since the detention centre has changed hands (it is now run by the Prison Authority) only families can provide packages of clothing, but they are not allowed to enter Jerusalem, and of course are banned from entering the jail area!
After hearing this, Justice Keidar stated this request in the court minutes.
We received printed minutes of the proceedings which we attended. There were 9 cases in the docket; we attended hearings of 6 cases.
Three of the minors were represented by Attorney Ahlam Haddad.
Ramah Younes Abed el-Fatah Hamara, ID 859688459
(His mother attended the hearing)
The investigator requested an eight-day remand extension and the transfer of the case to the prosecution. The defence counsel argued that her client had admitted that he threw stones, but left the scene five minutes before the accident and went home, where he worked on his computer and spent time with his family. He did not know about the accident and heard about it only after it happened. His relatives tried to hand over clothes to the suspect, but were told it was prohibited. Judge Keidar asked the boy if he had had no change of clothes since his arrest. The boy replied that he had another shirt, but it was under deposit at the jail.
The judge inquired about the matter with the investigator, who said he knew nothing about these procedures. The judge asked the suspect's mother, who said: I tried to hand over clothes but was told it's forbidden.
The judge's decision: there is agreement on extending the investigation by 8 days and transferring the case to the prosecution. As for the possibility of transferring clean clothes to detainees, he requested that the minutes be given to the prison commander, who would have to reply to the President of the Judea Court in writing within 7 days - whether giving a suspect clean clothes is a regular procedure for detainees or whether those rules were specific to this one (and also about others who made the same argument). He asked the person in charge of security checks to examine the clothes in the screening machine and to allow the suspect to receive them.
The judge added: "If it turns out that this is the regular procedure, not an unfortunate mistake, it is a source of embarrassment, and a thorough in-depth discussion must be conducted that will result in changing the procedures."
He extended the remand, following the parties' consent, by 8 days.
Ismail Ibrahim Ali Hamamreh, ID 860028133
The investigator requested 8 more days of interrogation.
The defence counsel: in the previous hearing, there was no police statement and he has not been examined yet. Today he gave his statement, and he is under psychological pressure because he was in isolation. He threw stones, but did not participate in throwing the stone that caused the accident. The detainee also said his condition is difficult because of the isolation. "I want to be with the others" - he said.
In the first extension the detainee claimed that he had a problem with his hand (which was broken before the detention). In the minutes, the judge requested that a doctor examine the prisoner. The request was not granted at that time.
The detainee's brother was present in the courtroom.
In his decision, the judge repeated his request to allow clothes to be given to him, especially underwear. In these minutes too, a medical examination is requested.
Extension of 8 days, with the parties' consent.
Mohammad Sami Abed el-Hamid Hamamreh, ID 401026240
Represented by Ahlam Haddad and by Judd Kadmani.
The detainee is a minor. The investigator requested an extension of 2 days and the file's transfer to Ofer court, to decide on his release. He did throw stones, but was not involved in the incident that caused the accident.
The judge's decision: with the consent of the parties, extended remand by 2 more days.
Sami Yusuf Mahmoud Abu Akroub, ID 907546949
Represented by Attorney Firas Sabbah.
The investigator requested 11 days more detention.
Q. (Firas) Has progress been made in the investigation?
A. There is no progress in the investigation, but there is a development in the investigation program. Attorney Sabbah has heard several times about the confidential report. He concluded: the request is excessive. The suspect has already been tried on the allegations against him in this case (membership and activity in a forbidden organization). He was sentenced to 9 years. Three years ago he was investigated on allegations to which he admitted, in partnership with others. At the time, the investigators were convinced that the suspect gave them all the information, and then, after three years they are interrogating him again on the same allegations. There is no new evidence, but someone incriminated him, someone that the suspect says he doesn't know. The defence asked the court to consider the facts.
The judge asked if the suspect had anything to add, and he answered: "The GSS interrogator 'up there' says I'll sit in solitary confinement until I say what he wants me to say."
The judge's decision: The prisoner was sentenced to 9 years for activity against the security in the region. Two weeks ago he was arrested for further questioning concerning other suspicions. The investigation is progressing slowly.
He extended the remand for 8 days, adding that there if no real progress is made, the Court will consider if there is room for further investigation of the allegations raised.
Qadri Jamil Rabia Alduek, ID 902754084
Represented by Attorney Firas Sabbah
The Investigator requested another 11 days in detention.
The allegations against the suspect are the same as those of the previous suspect. After three years, he is being investigated for suspicions that recently came to light.
The investigator answered Firas's questions by referring him to the confidential report.
The judge asked the suspect if he had anything to say. The answerwas: "It's taking too much time, what do you want from me?"
The judge's decision: As with detainee Sami Abu Arkoub – 8 more days of interrogation.
Mohammed Hamad Abed el-Aziz Hamamreh, ID 854084969
Represented by attorney Fadi Qawasmeh.
The investigator requested another 8 days in detention, and for the file to be transferred to the prosecution.
The defence counsel agreed on the number of days but reiterated that his client had not participated in the entire stone-throwing incident - only in part of it, and had left the site with another man named Ramah. He wanted this point to be investigated. In this case too there was a problem with passing over clean clothing.
The judge's decision: remand extension of 8 days.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Shalom Dahan
Police Investigator: Omri Awida
Defense: Attorneys: Ahlam Haddad, Judd Kadmani, Firas Sabah
There are 8 cases in the docket. On two an agreement has been reached, three are of minors and one is an adult, all from the village Hussan.
Remand extensions in this court take place twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. The number of days in detention here is supposedly decided by the circumstances of the interrogation. In fact, the number of days that a judge decrees is determined largely by the two days the court convenes. We saw this in today's decision: two detainees were remanded for 11 days so they could appear on Thursday; five detainees got 8 days - until Monday. On those days the judge will again determine the detention according to the court's calendar. The judge and the attorneys agreed that had the defendant been tried at Ofer Military Court - where remand extensions are held 6 days a week - their detention would probably have been shorter and the investigation quicker.
Hassin Sami Hassin Shabana - ID 921744116
Defense: Judd Kadmani
The investigator requests additional 15 days to complete the investigation.
Hassin lives in Sigin. He was arrested on 1.12.12, late at night at his home. Since his arrest he has been interrogated twice but not brought before a judge. This is his first remand extension.
The charges are activity that endangers security in the area, throwing rocks and participation in illegal gatherings. We learn from the defense's questions that the arrest was based on intelligence. The defendant denies the allegations. The attorney objects to such a long detention, which relies on intelligence and not on evidence.
The judge asks the defendant if he has anything to say. The latter responds: I have a headache. I asked for a pill but did not get any.
Judge’s decision: 8 days remand extension to complete the interrogation.
Kadri Jamil Rabi'aiI Aldroik - ID 902754084
Defense: Firas Sabah
The defendant is a resident of Hebron. He is a prisoner, having been arrested three years ago and sentenced to 8.5 years for membership and military activity in Hamas. He is interrogated on new allegations connected to the original charge. This is the third remand extension.
The attorney says that despite repeated interrogations there is no progress.
The defendant was told that he had been incriminated and is suspected of shooting. There is no other evidence. The interrogators insist that there is progress. The defendant denies the allegations, claiming that he does not know the guy who incriminated him.
As for his health, the defendant tells the judge that he has an earache and suffers from diminished hearing. When he was arrested, grenades were used
and that damaged his hearing.
The judge remands him for 8 more days and asks the interrogators to speed up the process.
Ismail Ibrahim Ali Hamamara - ID 860028133
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
The Investigators requests 8 more days.
The minor comes from the village Hussan. He is 17.5 years old. We were not asked to leave the court even though it is an investigation of a minor suspected of throwing rocks at an Israeli vehicle, which resulted in a severe injury to
Most of the defense's questions were answered by "It’s in the Secret file".
The minor was arrested on 1.12.12 before dawn. As a minor he should not have been arrested during the night. The GSS interrogation was conducted under conditions that do not apply to a minor. His family was not told where he was held, and he was not given an opportunity to consult an attorney regarding the specific allegation. He had no idea why he was detained and interrogated. The interrogation lasted 15 minutes: he was threatened that if he did not confess, he would rot in solitary confinement. Has anyone identified the suspect or seen him commit the crime? Who saw him? What was his role in the incident?
The police requests 10 additional days. Is there basis for the detention? Why 10 days? What investigation was carried out in the 72 hours since his arrest? The detainee is a senior in High School with no prior record.
Atty. Haddad moves to release him.
To the judge's question, the boy says he has a broken hand (from before the arrest) and underwent back surgery on 27.10.12. Before the arrest he went every week for check-ups. On 1.12.12 he had a doctor appointment, which he missed because of the arrest.
The judge refers the medical problem to the prison doctor. He explains that due to his tender age and clean record he remands him to 8 more days in custody.
Muhammad Hamed Abed Alaziz (Hamamara) - ID 854084969
Defense: Judd Kadmani
The defendant is a 17.5-year old minor from Hussan. The prosecutor requests ten more days. The charges are the same as the previous case referring to the same incident.
The defense objects to such a long remand. The defendant gave a statement to the police and is cooperating. The defense also invokes his young age.
Judge's decision: Due to his young age and cooperation he extends his remand by 8 days.
Ramah Yunas Fatah Hamamra - ID 859688459
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
Another minor from Hussan arrested on the same charges of rock throwing.
Atty. Haddad sums up: The basic rights of the minor have been violated (regarding the hour of arrest, the investigation and access to council). He was not given respite during the interrogation - which is a blatant violation of his rights. He gave a statement to the police; keeping him in detention is meant to put pressure on him to confess.
Decision: 8 days remand extension.
Abed Al Hamid Sami Abed Al Hamid Hamamra - ID 858316205
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
This defendant is also from Hussan. He is charged with the same violation of rock throwing. However he is not a minor. All questions to the prosecution are answered with reference to the "Confidential file".
As for his health, the defendant tells the judge he is under mental pressure and has a fever.
Due to his distress, the judge awards him 8 more days in detention.
Sami Yussuf Mahmoud Abu Arkub - ID 907546949
Defense: Firas Sabah
Taer Issa Aziz Baradaya - ID 936746460
Defense: Judd Kadmani
In both cases an agreement had been reached between prosecution and defense. Both ended with 11 days remand extension to complete the investigation.
Translation: Marganit W.
Hagit’s report from Courtroom 2
In the first hour of today’s session the court (presided by Avraham Einhorn, whose military rank I do not know) dealt with three out of 15 cases in the docket -11 were remand extensions and four were summoned for guarantee examination.
The prosecutor, Yossi Brachia, moves for remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings for the first detainee of the three arrested on charges of rock throwing. This detainee was identified by two witnesses cross-examined 4 months ago. In addition, five years ago he was given suspended sentence for a similar offense, which – according to the prosecutor – no longer obtains, but adds weight to considerations for punishment in the present case.
Atty. Lubani, representing the defendant, asks the court to release his client under certain conditions. The detainee is 35 years old, married with 5 kids. He was incriminated by testimony given four months ago but without specific details: when and where the witness saw him throw rocks, how many people participated in the incident, how many times did they throw the rocks etc. Another witness testifies that he knows the defendant but did not see him throw rocks.
Atty. Lubani states that there is no conclusive evidence and that detention is not called for. The judge, however, pronounces his decision right away, whispering it to the typist: detention until the conclusion of the proceedings.
Arraignment hearing is set for 6.1.13.
In two other cases there is an agreement between the prosecutor and Atty. Iyad Galid. Again, the judge whispers his decision in the typist’s ears. The interpreter does not translate. Perhaps the defendants and their families will hear about their fate from the attorney. The attorney in the meantime disappeared from the court, and the prosecutor said no other cases were ready for hearing. Perhaps the prosecution was not done preparing them, or else they ended up in another judge’s court.
The judge called for a break. When the hearing resumed, there were again some delays: this time there was a hearing, but the defendant was not brought in.
Norah’s report from Courtroom 1
Several trials of minors took place in this court. A large group from Holland attended the trials, as well as a representative of Defense Children International.
Mouaeyed Yussuf Muhammad Abed Alkarim,ID 950587857 – Case 4733/12 (not a minor)
Prosecutor: Lieut. Daniel Meuda
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Charge: throwing rocks and preventing a soldier from carrying out his duties
The judge gave his decision whether to detain the defendant until the conclusion of the proceedings (as the prosecution had requested in previous hearings) or alternatively, release him to house arrest (as the defense requested).
The judge concluded: “On 18.11.12 the defendant, together with others, threw rocks at IDF forces in Budrus. The defendant resisted arrest, shoved the policemen and hurled a shoe at them.”
The judge noted that “not much evidence exists” – as the defense had argued all along– “the policemen erred in the identity of the accused… there are inconsistencies in their testimonies… the unit’s commander Shua insisted that the rock thrower was about 17 years old, whereas the defendant is 25 and did not take part in the incident. Suissa identified the defendant, when he was at the police station, as the culprit, but it is possible that he meant to arrest the defendant’s brother, whom he identified as the rock thrower… due to a misunderstanding or because of the confusion, the defendant was the one arrested…”
The defendant, a policeman in the Palestinian Authority (The State of Palestine) denied the allegations, claiming he was working at home when the incident took place. His alibi was not checked. Moreover, there were discrepancies between the testimonies of Shua and Suissa regarding the clothes that the rock thrower was wearing, as well as about his first name. Suissa wrote Muhammad, and then changed it to Mouayed.
The judge reiterated that the investigation had been conducted sloppily.
Based on those arguments, he decided to release the defendant to partial house arrest - when he is not working at his job– at the home of his uncle (who had been vetted earlier by the court and found capable of fulfilling the court’s conditions). In addition, 7500 shekels would have to be deposited and the uncle would have to post a 10,000 -shekel guarantee. Since the family cannot afford such a sum, a hearing was convened for 4.12.12 to discuss the guarantee.
An arraignment hearing was set for 12.12.12 before Justice Etty Adar.
The prosecution requested a postponement of 72 hours in order to appeal the decision.
In the meantime I found out that a plea bargain had been negotiated on 4.12.12: the charge sheet was amended. Only the charge of “disturbing a soldier” remained.
Penalty: 31 days in jail and a suspended sentence that includes rock throwing, plus a 1500-shekel fine.
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon sessions
We were detained at the entrance for 20 minutes and were allowed in only when most
Palestinians had been admitted.
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
There were 21 cases in the docket this morning, most of them memoranda and arraignments hearings.
There was a long session in the afternoon for the evidentiary trial of Ahmad Mahmoud Ali Al-Salibi,
Prosecutor: Captain Batya Pitrio
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Ahmad Al-Salibi, 16 years old, is released on bail. He was arrested at Beit Ummar on suspicion that together with others he threw rocks on Rte 60 and attacked a policeman. He does not admit the charges. (In the same incident a Palestinian student was shot and injured by a BP officer. In his defense, the officer claimed that he had been attacked while trying to arrest one of the rock throwers and that his life was in danger. The injured student’s trial is taking place these days at Ofer; he is accused of throwing rocks and attacking a policeman, Amir Sabarna.
[See previous reports on this case]
On 13.10.11 Ahmad Al-Salibi was interrogated at Hebron Police station by Sgt.-Major Sami Hamza, who today testifies for the prosecution in Salibi’s trial.
The defense conducts a meticulous cross-examination of the witness, exposing the faulty methods the interrogator had employed, in blatant contravention of all laws and regulations. Apparently, Sami Hamza used the same methods on other detainees who took part in the incident.
The defense attorney cites passages from transcripts of interrogations he had examined. Hamza did not warn the suspect that he might “incriminate himself”. He did not remind him of his right to remain silent, nor did he explain that whatever he said might be used against him.
The interrogator – who claims to be a qualified juvenile officer – did not comply with the requirement to have the parents present in a minor’s interrogation. He did not inform the family about the investigation and about the fact that it was conducted at the police station in Hebron.
In the video of the interrogation (parts of which were read in court) you could clearly hear how Interrogator Hamza tries to trip the detainee (for example: even though there is no factual information, the interrogator tells the detainee that the police has a video showing how he – the accused – attacks the soldier); similarly, Hamza tries to put words in the mouth of the accused. The defense claims that there are tendentious inaccuracies in the translation from Arabic (the language used in the interrogation) into Hebrew (the language in which the statement was written). Those inaccuracies are always detrimental to the accused. The main question the defense raises about the interrogation is: How did the interrogator know what to ask?? The soldiers who testified about the incident did not identify the accused and did not mention him specifically. It turned out that only four days after the interrogation did intelligence regarding Al-Salibi surface. He and other suspects arrested a few hours after the incident were interrogated without any evidence or information.
In the next hearing another witness will testify for the prosecution and the defense will present its arguments. It is set for 26.2.12 at 13:30.
From 10:30 until after 15:00 the court heard testimonies in the trial of Bassem Muhammad Abed Alrahma Tamimi, ID 959225640 - Case No. 2058/11
(See earlier reports on this trial)
Bassam’s wife and young son are present in court, as well as some of his usual supporters, plus a journalist and a photographer.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Yitzhak Shilo, head of the unit that interrogated Islam Dar Ayyoub Tamimi (Bassam’s incriminator) testified for the prosecution.
(See earlier reports of the pre-trial regarding Islam’s case).
In cross-examination, the witness describes the interrogation as routine, in accordance with interrogations of Palestinians accused of disturbing the peace that are conducted at the Judea-Samaria Central Unit (the Binyamin Police Station does not have the means to tackle such disturbances, which cause the IDF serious damage. Local stations lack the skilled crews to interrogate and record, as well as proper facilities).
The defense tries to show that the interrogation of rock throwing kids is aimed at exposing the leaders and inciters behind them, to catch the “big fish”. For this purpose a slew of interrogators are recruited, in addition to the one or two qualified to interrogate juveniles. Those interrogations take longer than usual and use sophisticated equipment.
The witness confirms that the interrogation was conducted specifically to help solve the problem of disturbances at Nabi Saleh, but he rejects the attorney’s contention that the interrogation he conducted intentionally broke the law governing juvenile interrogation with a view to ferreting out the organizers.
A Side Story
A woman accompanied by her Hebrew speaking husband (who serves as her translator) is waiting in the court for the conclusion of Bassem Tamimi’s trial.
She is released on 1000 -shekel bail having been summoned to court upon her arrest at Meitar checkpoint 6 months ago. She is charged with “violating the injunction regarding enclosed areas”. In plain language: She is a Palestinian who does not have a permit to enter Israel. She admits that when she came back from visiting her sick father in Bethlehem, soldiers checked the passengers of the car and discovered her. Charges were brought against her (Case 2577/11).
The woman has been living with her husband and children for 25 years, but all her requests for entry permits have been denied.
She has no attorney and denies the charges. Justice Adar explains that the woman has a choice: plea bargain that can be arranged with the prosecution on the spot, or an evidentiary trial. Prosecutor Michael Avian made himself available right away, suggested conditions for a bargain, the judge accepted, and the state coffers were enriched by 500 shekels, to be deducted from the deposit the woman had posted.
The judge also approved a one month suspended sentence for a year.
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
While Hava attended the evidentiary hearing of Bassem Tamimi, I walked into Courtroom 4 to check the remand extension hearing of two girls from Um Fagara village, (near Yata) in the South Hebron Mountains who were arrested on 24.11.11.
The background to the arrest: That day the army entered the village with 2 bulldozers and 5 jeeps and demolished two houses (one belonging to one of the defendants) and a mosque, both built without permits [as if inhabitants of South Hebron Mountains, which is in Zone C, could ever obtain a building permit. The purpose of the occupation is to harass the area residents, who are dirt poor, until they leave the area, which Israel covets for its own settlements].
See a film documenting the arrest
See article by Amira Hass on the same subject
The two girls are detained in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.
Judge: Major Zvi Heilbron
Prosecutor: Major Nathanela Kola
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati and Atty. Akram Samara
-Amal Jamal Mussa Hamada, ID 855070850 - 17 year old minor
-Sausan Mahmud Hassin Hamada – ID 852634138 0- 21 years old student in Yata
The prosecutor presents the judge with the police investigation file where the violation is detailed. the charge is: attacking a soldier.
While the representatives of the Civil Administration, together with soldiers and Border Police came to demolish her house, Sausan picked up a stone [later described as a ‘rock’] and hit a BP officer on the hand. Sausan was arrested. Then Amal came on the scene and poured water on the officer.
(read a description of the incident by CPT [Christian Peace Team located in Hebron and the South Hebron Mountains] activists and compare the two versions)
The prosecution agreed to Amal’s release that day (perhaps because she is a minor, or because squirting a soldier with water is not such a serious violation) in return for a 4000 shekel deposit,
The defense explained that Amal cannot afford to pay such a sum: she is the daughter of a destitute shepherd, and besides, her house has been destroyed.
He wanted to know if the prosecution intends to press charges against Amal.
Prosecutor: We’ll examine the evidence and proceed accordingly.
The judge’s decision: He’s willing to consider reduced bail, plus third person Israeli guarantor (me) to insure that the defendant shows up for a hearing, should one take place on 21.12.11.
As for Sausan, the judge stated that according to the police report the defendant held a rock, which she intended to hurl at the BP officer. She was deterred with pepper spray.
The prosecutor moved for a 4 day remand extension to prepare the indictment, but the judge, acceding to the defense, instructed the prosecution to produce the indictment by 14:00 the next day, thus extending the remand by one day.
The judge also ordered the Prison Authorities to provide Sausan with a coat, after seeing the girls shiver, since they were wearing the same clothes they were arrested in 4 days earlier.
I wondered how the released underage girl was going to get home that day, with no money and no proper clothes. My concern proved well founded: She was released from the Russian Compound detention center in the evening. An Israeli friend of the family who inquired where he could pick her up was told to wait for her at Qalandiya Checkpoint. The man waited for 5 hours only to learn later that the girl had been released at Bethlehem Checkpoint. Amal reached home at 10 PM.
The next day, at 2 PM I reported again to the court to find out about Sausan. The judge agreed to release her on a bail that was much higher than Amal’s – guaranteed by the above-mentioned friend of the family. The judge imposed on her a house arrest in Yata. The prosecution, however, requested 48 hours to consider an appeal. Thus Sausan was not released that day.
Her father, who attended the hearing, had brought clothes for her, and so did the family friend.
The next day, I brought the clothes to the Detention Center at the Russian Compound, which was not a nice experience either.
In the end, Sausan was released on Thursday evening. This time two activists waited for her at Bethlehem Checkpoint to drive her home. But they waited in vain, because she was released at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (thus turning her into an Illegal Sojourner in Israel). A taxi driver took her home.
Thus ends the detention part of the saga of the two girls. We shall wait for their trial.
That day and the next I attended evidentiary hearings in the case of Bassem Tamimi where the prosecution had summoned two minors to incriminate him.
I attach 2 press releases sent by ThePopular Struggle Coordination Committee entitled “I testified under duress” and “We were instructed to incriminate him.”
Translation: Marganit W.
I entered Courtroom 3 [Court of Appeals] while an appeal was in progress. I did not have the necessary details and I mention this hearing in case we want to follow up on this case in the future.
The prosecution appealed the acquittal of a Palestinian (about 40 years old) charged with kidnapping and assaulting an Israeli Arab. The man was acquitted because the accuser was abroad and did not report to court despite repeated extensions.
The defendant sat in court with his wife and an interpreter.
The judges suggested rescheduling the trial seven months from today, allowing the prosecution to complete the investigation. The acquittal will be revoked and the defendant will be under house arrest. The deposit will be reduced.
The sides were given two weeks to respond.
In Justice Etty Adar’s court I attended the trial of Bassem Tamimi, ID 959225640 –
Case No. 2058/11from Nabi Salah.
He was arrested at the end of March 2011 and his trial began on June 5 2011.
(the protocol [Hebrew] was forwarded to us by Yonatan Pollak)]
Prosecutor: Atty. Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Prosecution Witness No. 2 (first to testify) is Arnon Yahav, investigator at the Police Intelligence Unit in Judea-Samaria.
The prosecutor asked for confirmation that the interrogation was carried out in a pleasant atmosphere and that the witness had signed the defendant’s statement. The statement was presented to the court. Its content is not detailed in the protocol. Atty. Habib asks the witness why Roy Vanaspi had been interrogated. The witness says he does not remember that investigation. Nor can he explain why he looked at photos taken by Roy Vanaspi [the attorney asks, “So you just looked at the pictures for no reason?” to which the witness replies: “We don’t do things for no reason. I am being paid to do certain things.”]
The defense claims that the investigators started looking at the pictures only after 12.1.11, not before, because it was then that the defendant’s investigation began, and they were looking for testimony that would incriminate him.
The attorney asks if the typist who typed the interrogation was a police plant and that’s why she was present at the interrogation (since the interrogator can enter the data himself), but the witness could not say what the typist’s special functions were.
The defense asks why the interrogator confronted the defendant with Islam’s testimony, who incriminated him, but not with Omar Dar Ayoub who testified that the defendant never incites people to violence. The witness replied that since he did not depose Omar Dar Ayoub, it was not his job to confront the latter’s testimony with the defendant’s [but regarding every other question, the witness said that he relied on information found in the case file – M.M.].
The defense claims that the investigators do not have testimonies by soldiers who were present at the time and saw the defendant commit the crime. The witness says: if such testimonies exist, they should be in the file.
[Judging by the interrogator’s replies it’s strange that he disagrees with the attorney who told him that he described himself (the witness) as “small fry” – M.M.]
Prosecution Witness No. 3 (No. 2 in the witnesses list) is Moshe Madiuni , from the same police intelligence unit.
Again the prosecutor ascertains that the interrogation was conducted according to the rules and the signature on the defendant’s statement was properly obtained.
The witness answers most questions with “I don’t remember if this was included in the file…” The defense focuses on photos, and again the claim is that the interrogators examined the photos of the demonstrations only after Bassem Tamimi’s investigation began, because they were looking for incriminating evidence against him, not because they were tracking rioters.
The attorney points out that seven or eight times the defendant was not present in the village during demonstrations, as he attended a Red Cross course; the witness states that they could not verify the alibi because it is impossible to contact the Red Crescent in the Territories. [Note the “helplessness” of the Security Forces – M.M.]
This witness, too, is asked why the defendant was confronted only with witnesses who incriminated him, and not with those who testified that he did not take part in the demonstrations. The witness replies that it is not his job to be the defendant’s defense. The attorney counters that an investigator’s job is to search for the truth.
The next hearing in Bassem Tamimi’s case is set for Wed. 2.11.11
[It is hard to determine whether the investigators just did not bother to prepare themselves before testifying and did not read the file before going on the witness stand, or they were just feigning ignorance. Either way, they showed disdain and disrespect for their own testimony, a sentiment probably reflecting their self confidence regarding their status in the court – M.M.]
Judge: Major Shlomo Katz
There are 31 cases in the docket covering various charges and at various stages of the legal process: arraignments, reminders, evidentiary, arguments for sentencing.
A third of the defendants have been in custody for at least 10 months (judging by the number of cases bearing the 2010 date).
There was a big commotion in the court: five or six attorneys came and went, relatives were ushered in and out, waiting for their sons’ turn even though some had already been brought in, shackled. Many cases were deferred to a later date, others were summarily processed based on agreements between the sides that were presented to the judge and heard outside the court.
Unit “Lahav 433” arrived: it included civilian prosecutor and defense. They brought 3 defendants. The military court then heard cases of car theft and motor switching perpetrated by Palestinians from the Occupied Territories against Israeli citizens.
In the middle of this mess, the hearing of the evidentiary trial of Mawiya Taisir Yassin Natshe (Case No. 4260/10) took place. He is represented by Atty. Muhammad Jabarin. Mawiya has been in detention for 14 months charged with several violations: membership in an unlawful organization (Hamas), attempts to collect money to buy arms and to carry out suicide attacks, in collusion with another Hamas operative. The prosecution claims that he tried to go to Jordan for training, but his plan was foiled when he was arrested.
The judge “sees justification” for the acceptance of a plea bargain: there are evidentiary difficulties. In other words – which are clear to everybody – there is no proof for the allegations, at least not beyond reasonable doubt.
We are used to the court finding a solution to this common problem of insufficient evidence.
After 14 months in custody, the defendant is ready to accept a revised charge sheet, and he is sentenced even when there is no convincing proof for his culpability.
The sentence: 28 months (i.e. 14 additional months) and a 6000 shekel fine.
Translation: Diana Rubanenko
Judge: Lt.-Col. Shalom Dahan
Defence Attorneys: Firas Sabah, Fahmi Shkirat, Ahmed Saffiya
Police Investigators: Afif Mahmoud, Ronny Vadror
We waited half an hour for the amiable policewoman who always checks us to arrive.
While we waited, many uniformed people walked past us. One of the police officers stopped and asked who we were. “Are you from the organization for the defence of the murderers?" This is the image of an Arab for a uniformed individual on duty – a murderer.
At 10:30 we went through the body-check and were accompanied into the courtroom. We entered while Justice Dahan was writing his summary in the minutes. Three investigators were seated in the court. One asked us right away: “Did you visit Gilad Shalit?” I answered, apparently not in a low voice. I asked an investigator (who was new to me) for a list of the cases to be heard. He had hidden the list under the files in front of him; when I tried to answer, the judge called me to order for disturbing. If I had a problem he said, I should turn to him…
When he had finished reading his summing-up, I spoke to the investigator again. Justice Dahan explained to him that it is in order to give us the list so we can copy it. The investigator said he would photocopy it and give it to us. I had my doubts about this, but there was no choice.
We received the photocopied list, from which the ID numbers of several suspects had been deleted with correcting fluid. We could not identify which one was the subject of the discussions – and could do so only in the final session that we observed.
Six cases were in the docket. Four of them had the same surname – Aliyan.
We observed the proceedings regarding three detainees. All three were represented by Attorneys Saffiya and Shkirat.
Two of the detainees are aged 17.5 and the third is 21. The three appeared in court without a guard, and without handcuffs. When we first arrived in the court, we saw them talking with their attorneys in the corridors near the courtroom.
The three are charged with participating in demonstrations, throwing stones and bottles (not Molotov cocktails, as the judge made clear with the investigator’s help, but a bottle like, “Let’s say, Coca Cola”) and with activities against regional security.
The two aged 17.5 are from Bethlehem and Anata; they received, following consent of both sides, an 8-day extension. Their files will betransferred to the prosecution “unless other reasons come to light justifying a change in the agreement”.
As for the third detainee – Handa Muammed Aliyan, 21 – agreement was not reached. The defence attorney put questions to the investigator, among them: “Was the detainee arrested on the basis of incriminations?” The reply: “Yes, he was arrested three weeks after the incident, as the result of incrimination or intelligence material”.
Three statements were taken from the detainee by three different investigators, one of them – whom the detainee identified as Mussa (probably Moshe) took his statement using violence.
The judge noted the incident in the minutes, to the obvious annoyance of the investigator, who was present during the proceedings.
The detainee is suspected of a “very grave act which miraculously did not harm anyone” and also of throwing stones and of activity against regional security.
His remand was extended by additional 4 days.
General note: Again, we found no dockets. Only after our request did we receive the lists from the interpreter.
Upon our arrival at 10 AM we encountered a man who told us he had come to retrieve his bail money, following his acquittal. He had been there since 8:30. When we left the court at 12, he was still there. The officer said, “Just because he’s been waiting for a long time doesn’t mean he can get his money back right away (but when he was enjoined to deposit the money, it had to be right away.) The man was sent someplace (we could not hear the name) and left the compound with us, after four hours and without the money.
Justice Shmuel Fleischman’s court
In most cases the prosecution requested a deferment.
During the discussion Atty. Ilya Theodory asked the judge why he was not providing the defendants with the protocols of the hearings of their cases. In reply the judge asked: What do the defendants need the protocols for? Atty. Theodory insisted the protocols be given to the defendants so they can study them in prison, consulting other prisoners, some of whom are lawyers.
Jihad Nabil Jamil Alza’abaneh – Case no. 3176/11
Accused of leaving the area without a permit.
Defense attorney Issam Mrar seeks a plea bargain. The defendant has been in jail for two months. He accepts the charges but refuses to strike a bargain. He does not want to be represented by Atty. Mrar.
The judge tells the defendant that he has no choice. “This is not ‘At Your Request ‘program” (his exact words). The court nominates a judge from a given list and the defendant has a choice to be represented by that attorney or not to be represented at all. [Is this the procedure inside Israel as well?] The judge further explains the advantages of this arrangement. When a defendant admits his guilt, the penalty is reduced; this mitigation will not prevail if he insists on an evidentiary trial. The defendant insists on a trial.
The hearing is set for next week, 17.8.11
Later we attended the trial of Farid Muafek Farid Za’abaneh – ID. 911530756. He, too, is accused of leaving the area without a permit and also of “damaging the fence.” Atty. Mrar was appointed by the court to represent him.
Prosecutor Jenny Lubovsky tells the court that on four occasions the defendant entered Israel illegally, once through the fence. Such violations, she claims, are very burdensome for the security forces. In the last few years, this has become a major concern for the army. The damage to an army installation is in itself reason for a harsh sentence. We soon found out what damage Farid Za’baneh had caused. He had jumped over the fence and was captured at A-zaim checkpoint. This is the reason that the prosecution demands a stiff punishment.
Defense: The defendant admitted right away that he had entered Israel several times without a permit. Thus he saved the court precious time. He is getting married next month, and the wedding has already been postponed because of his arrest. He has no criminal record; he works in construction and has 6 brothers whom he helps to support. He’s been in jail for almost 2 months. This period should suffice and the court should take into consideration his economic situation.
The judge asked the defendant a few questions:
Q: Why did you enter Israel?
A: I want to work.
Q: Tell me about yourself, your parents, your siblings.
A: My father has diabetes. I went to school for 8 years. Two of my brothers are married.
Q: Does your mother work?
A. Yes. (it is not clear he understood that the judge asked if she is ‘gainfully employed’)
Q: You understand that you are getting a suspended sentence, and if you are caught again, you will be sent to prison for a longer period. How can I make sure you don’t enter Israel illegally again?
A: I learned my lesson.
Decision: Taking into account several considerations and the defendant’s personal circumstances: 70 days in jail, starting with his arrest (60 of them he already spent in detention), 6 month probation and 2000 shekels fine or a month in jail.
Yussuf Mussa Yussuf Hawasha – ID. 941810558– case no. 3803/11
Prosecutor: Jenny Lubovsky
Defense: Mahmud Hassan (from A-Damir organization)
Hawasha, a resident of Bir-Zeit, is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful association. Since the end of 2009 until his arrest – or thereabout – he was a member or an operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He organized their parades.
He was arrested after being incriminated by Walid Habas who identified him in a photo and claimed that he saw him at a meeting in 2009. They used to meet every other week to discuss the political situation.
The defense asks to postpone the hearing so he can study the GSS report before the next hearing.
Here is a précis of the previous hearing that took place on 2.8.11.
The defense finds holes in the testimony. The witness knows the defendant as Abu-Yaffa and gave no other identifying details. He did identify him in a photo, but the question is: how did the interrogator get a picture of the defendant while the latter denies knowing his incriminator. The investigators should have confronted the two in order to substantiate the claim. The fact that they did not confront them proves that the investigators were not trying to find the truth.
The trial will continue on 14.9.11