Ofer - Administrative Detention, Health Problems
Translation: Marganit W.
Sewer stench still welcomes all who come to the palace of military justice, and the waiting area outside is overcrowded. The guard behind the dark protective glass treats the family members who try to get in with the customary rudeness and imperiousness.
Courtroom 4 presided by Justice Etty Adar
Muhammad Ahmed Nimer Abu Maria – ID 860016575
Haled Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Maria – ID 401691068
Both are from Beit Ummar.
Charge: manufacturing and throwing a firebomb.
Atty. Ismail A-Tawill replaced Ahlam Haddad who did not show up.
The hearing was postponed to 1.11.16.
Muhammad Mahmoud Karkour – ID 907345516
Charge: possession and trading in combat materiel
Defense: Afif Abu Tuameh
The accused was visibly distraught and teary. This surprised us, because normally the detainees smile at their family members who are present in court and use the time when the attorneys talk to the judge to exchange news with the families. We asked Karkour’s attorney about it and he replied that his client comes from an educated, privileged family, and is not used to such humiliations. In view of what the judge said later, we assume that he sees himself as an innocent victim.
The defense did not want to talk about the circumstances of the case because the subject is too sensitive. He won’t talk about it until the end of the trial.
The judge confirmed this when she said, “In view of the circumstances of the case, I was hoping that we’d reach a plea bargain today, without an admission of guilt.” The court agreed to a short remand extension to complete a plea bargain.
The hearing will resume on 6.9.16.
Hadifa Hussam Ahmed Sultan – ID 401073366
Charge: membership and activity (in a proscribed organization)
We chose to report this case not because of Hadifa Sultan himself but because of his parents: two elderly people, the father wearing bright white clothes. They were in court for 4 minutes before the guard motioned them to leave. All the way from home, obtaining the necessary permits, phone calls to the attorney, paying for the ride, standing at checkpoints, the turnstiles, the iron doors, the security check, the long wait – and then 4 minutes in Courtroom 4.
In the end, the hearing was postponed to 5.10.16.
Zuadi Shaaban Ibrahim Shalaldeh – ID 953411071
Charge: “Other hostile terror activity”
Defense: Ashraf Abu Sneina, who did not show up.
“Other hostile terror activity” indicates a will to hide something.
Indeed, Zuadi, a 54-year old resident of Sa’ir has many infirmities and health issues. He was sentenced to 7 months of administrative detention, which targets people that the army has reasons to want to keep behind bars but has difficulty proving their guilt.
His detention was extended by 4 months but since no attorney was present to represent him, we don’t know the reason for the present hearing, which did not take place but was postponed.
Bassem Ibrahim Mahmoud Abeed – ID 905075628
Charge: throwing objects
Defense: Akram Samara agreed to represent him since he had no council.
This is an arraignment hearing, i.e., not a trial but a chance for the judge to ask the defendant if he understands the charges and confesses.
Bassem is a sick elderly man. He denies the charges, which is why he did not lawyer up. He does not think he needs one. He was upset, furious and determined to prove his innocence. The judge tried to explain that this is not the place for evidence: it is only a procedural interlude, but Bassem, finding himself in court, facing a judge, prosecutors and a pile of dossiers, insisted on addressing the court. The judge responded, and what ensued was a dialogue of the deaf: he with his justice and she with her procedure. In the end, the judge got angry and threatened to throw him out of court if he continues. Indeed, he was taken out of court.
Abed Alkarim Faisal Jamil Zaidan – ID 852409507
Charge: Possession and trading in combat materiel
Defense: Akram Samara
This is an evidentiary trial.
Evidentiary trials are rare in the military courts. Most defendants, whether guilty or not prefer to wait for a plea bargain, because evidentiary trials take a long time. If the Palestinian witnesses are in Israeli prisons, the court has to send subpoenas to the prison authority. When the witnesses don’t show up, the prisons claim they never received the subpoena, or could not find a vehicle to transfer the witness to the court etc. And the trial drags on and on. In the meantime there is Ramadan and Jewish holidays and the time passes. The witnesses are not eager to report; the IDF, which has no problem locating a boy with a red shirt on a certain day, claims it has difficulty locating the homes of the witnesses for the defense. Exceptions are witnesses of the Shabak [GSS], the army or the police. Today we saw one of them in court.
The defense cross examined a policeman named Muhanned Falah, who had taken Abed Alkarim Zaidan’s statement, and asked him to describe the process.
This took 55 minutes. The detainee had been interrogated by the Shabak for 2 weeks, and the statement was based on a memorandum written by Shabak interrogators.
The witness testified that he had read the suspect his rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to council, but the suspecy waived the last one; he understood what was said to him, answered all the questions of his own free will and signed the statement.
As for “free will” it is a moot point, especially when interrogated by the Shabak, but never mind.
The other witnesses did not show up; hopefully they will come to the next hearings.
Although we have seen this situation many times before, the sight of a young man in brown prison uniform, his feet shackled, sending smiles all around, was hard to watch and raised again the question of “free will”.