Ofer - Assault of soldier/policeman, Conspiracy to Kill
Translation: Marganit W.
Courtroom 5, Justice Major Haim Balilti
Today we tried to find out if there is any correspondence between the charges and what the accused did or did not. Even the attorneys were surprised when we pointed out the discrepancy (details below). All the hearings ended with “agreement” i.e., plea bargain that necessarily contain an admission of guilt. No admission, no deal. ‘Agreement’ is one of the mainstays of the Newspeak of the occupation. Indeed, everyone confesses, or else the trial drags on for years.
Omar Hazem Eid Bader – ID 402355564
A 19-year old Science student from Hebron University.
He was arrested on 8.3.16.
Atty. Ibrahim Alarj represents him.
The charge is: conspiracy to murder.
The defendant’s father, an English professor from Hebron University, explained that there is no connection between the charge and what happened. The boy posted on the internet (either email or Facebook) that he plans to go to Al-Aqsa. The IDF’s thought police that monitors the social media summoned him for investigation. He was asked about his intentions and he replied that if his friends were attacked, he would defend them. That was enough to have him arrested, tried and accused of conspiracy to murder.
The defense tried to set a date for additional hearing. The judge said his schedule is full, but if they reach a plea bargain (“agreement”) he’ll find an earlier date. The next hearing is set for 22.6.16.
Fares Abd AlJaber Fares Abu Shtieh – ID 852524594
The man is out on bail and came from home wearing civilian clothes.
Defense: Ahmad Safiya
Charge: Attacking a soldier and disturbing him in his mission.
A charge of attack or disturbance is the typical case of “a bully complaining of being the victim”. The one with the power and the weapon is also the one who makes the laws that protect his privileges and, in this case, his right to use unlimited force. Over the years our friends at the checkpoints have reported on many cases of attack, where a Palestinian “disturbed” a soldier, preventing him from beating him or his friend.
There were a few sharp verbal exchanges between Fares and the soldier at the checkpoint, and that was reason enough to arrest him and charge him with “disturbing a soldier.”
The last hearing of this case will be on 20.7.16.
Ghassan Jamaa Muhammad Abu Rois – ID 850936853
He was arrested on 16.3.16
Defense: Atty. Halabi
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
I am writing this report on the night of the announcement of Avigdor Lieberman’s nomination for Defense minister, which raises grave doubts about the future, because there will be a connection between Lieberman and Ghassan Abu Rois.
In Abu Rois’s case there was no manufacturing, no throwing and no incendiary object. Abu Rois is a 34-year old driver from Nablus, married with 3 children and one on the way. During a search at a checkpoint, a handle compatible with part of an M16 was found in a plastic bag in the glove compartment of his cab.
Add this to the case of the kid who poured 3 liters of paint on an army jeep and you wander about the arsenal of the resistance to the occupation. A handle of a rifle and a few liters of paint and some other trivial objects – this is how the Palestinians struggle for freedom and human rights.
But there is a plea bargain stipulating 7 months in prison plus 7 months probation for 4 years.
Ahmed Amran Jamal Abed Alnabi – ID 411112063
Defense: Iliya Theodory
Charge: criminal (other)
During a search on his body at Qalandiya Checkpoint 5 bullets and a blade were found. He was charged with possession of arms and a knife. How were they found? Ahmad, it is claimed, created a disturbance at the checkpoint. A guard tried to calm him. Evidence is lacking in the case: why would he choose to act wildly at a checkpoint? He drove from home to the checkpoint with 5 bullets and a blade in his pocket and that’s where he decided to go wild? Was he looking for trouble? What exactly did he do? No explanation. Something here does not sound right. Maybe the order of events is reversed? The soldiers tried to “calm” him, and THEN he freaked out? Soldiers have strange ways of “calming people down” as we have often witnessed at checkpoints. And here there are evidentiary difficulties: perhaps (the soldiers’) evidence is insufficient? Perhaps there are contradictory testimonies? Or, as often happens, the cameras were not working. Because of these difficulties, the defense was able to reach a lenient bargain: 6-month probation and 500-shekel fine.
Suhayeb Issa Haled Habel – ID 854550373
Defense: Tawheed Shaaban
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
In this case much is unknown. Suhayeb was arrested and convicted when he was 15 and was released during the ‘Shalit Deal’ 4 years ago. About 2 years ago, in 2014 he was arrested again (like most Shalit Deal prisoners). His attorney did not make much progress, or perhaps there were delays we don’t know about. Eventually, the family got another lawyer. Tawheed Shaaban has been in charge of the case for a few months now, but he, too, has not made any progress. He claims that there are mistakes in the testimonies and he asks to meet with the prosecutor (this is usually a code word for reaching an agreement).
The judge told the attorney impatiently that he has had the case for a long time and it’s time to conclude.
A hearing was set for 27.7.16.
The defendant is studying for his matriculation exams.
The judges differ in their attitude toward the families: some are more sensitive and allow families to meet with detainees. We don’t usually report on these aspects, because reporting would mean lending a human face to the grotesque of the military trials. [Cf. B. Michael’s article in HAARETZ from 16.5.16, where he describes a “juridical hell, where no one is presumed innocent, there are no evidentiary laws, no justice, no mercy and no compassion, only a ‘court of law’ – a ludicrous theater whose main purpose is to impart an “orderly and legal façade” to ruthless military tyranny…”] The hearings give a chance to two family members to see and talk with the detainees. For the most part, the outcome of the trial is known in advance: acquittals are very rare and the penalties are all preordained. For Palestinians, the chance to see their families is almost the only justification for these court hearings.
And yet… Justice Balilti ordered the family members to leave the court. The security guard claimed that there was no room in the court (although many seats were empty). On the other hand, there is one judge who always waits for the family members to come in before she opens the hearing. These are small things; they are really insignificant.