Ofer - Plea Bargain, Remand Extension
Translator: Lydia A.
Judge: Ronen Atsmon
Defense lawyer: Ilya Theodor
Aatsam Mahmud Abed Elrahman Salma.
Charged with attempt to cause death.
Denies the charge.
The 22-year-old man from Ramallah was arrested 7 months ago, on 07.03.07. According to his mother and sister (barred by GSS), present in the court, today is his birthday. Studies Business Management at the Open University. We are presenting all the information on his civilian life to counter the de-humanization and obliteration of the detainees’ identity as human beings.
The next session on 04.08.08. This is not an error. The campaign (on which we already reported) by lawyers representing prisoners at military courts, to conduct trials with evidence rather than make plea-bargains, so as to block the system, is beginning to bear fruit.
Hassan Ahmed Hassan Barguti very young, works for the Palestinian Authority.
Charged with attempt to cause death.
Note: military courts often use “attempt to cause death” to denote hurling stones or Molotov bottles.
Defense, Ahmed Safia: the accused is acquainted with the indictment and denies the charge. He seems to have admitted to the charge earlier, because the defense claims that the admission was made under threats and blows. The judge talked about this with the defense. I’m quoting: Judge: How old is the military court? 40 years. How many times has the court heard a complaint about abuse of an interrogated person? Never. So would any GSS interrogator risk his career precisely on a case of a Molotov bottle thrower?
Next session on 11.12.07, at which date the defense will submit a list of witnesses.
Judge: Dahlia Kaufman
Defense: Anwar Abu Omar
Hitam Ismayil Abed El Fatah
Charge: causing death.
Present in the courtroom are his uncle and sister.
It turns out that the judge cannot make a decision due to her pending replacement. Replacement was mentioned on other occasions – I do not know what it means.
The ultimate date for summaries is set at 26.11.07. There will be no further postponements.
Case no. 4927/05: Rafat Raj Mahmud El Batat from Daharyia.
Charge: Causing death.
Present in the courtroom are his uncle and aunt (barred but holding special permission to attend the trial), who tell us that that they must travel 100 km to see their nephew for 5 minutes. The case is two years old and he had been interrogated for 4 months. He is now denying the charge and on 26.11.07 the defense will submit the evidence.
Judge: Captain Eran Laufman
Muhmad Wadi Hassan Kariya, aged 16.5, resident at Abu Dis.
Defense: Wisam Falah
The youth has been arrested a week ago. His parents are present in the courtroom. He is charged with hurling stones and throwing explosives.
The defense questions the credibility of the admission, whereas the judge claims that at the stage of remand the court is not required to go deeply into evidence, which it examines as is, without hearing witnesses and since it was not questioned, including claims which may be heard at another stage of the trial.
This is interesting because we are witnessing here an effective mechanism to get rid of a nuisance by claiming “there is no connection”, or “not now”, same as in our telephone calls to the humanitarian center or brigade commanders, when it turns out that “this is outside of our authority”, and as our talks with the Peace Now people serving on reserve duty, who declare: “political views and military duty are separate”. So also in military courts: we hear “there is no connection” and “not now”. This separation between different authorities and bureaucratic stages deprives every soldier, DCO officer (it is beyond their authority), section commanders, and military court judges who are required to make decisions, of an opportunity to use their judgment and leaves authority with the GSS alone.
What happened there? The defense lawyer told the court that the youth was taken from his home at night, was interrogated, and told to sign a few pages written in Hebrew. The answer to his question regarding what it was that he was to sign was: it’s what you said. The boy signed because he was frightened, alone, at night. The man who incriminated him was arrested and has been released. The detainee denies everything. The defense asks to release him pending trial.
What does the judge have to say to this? “The gravity of the charges; the admission the detainee made after having been warned by the interrogator, who told him that he has the right to consult a lawyer (in the middle of the night?), and even signed it, and at the end of his admission confirmed that his admission had been read to him in Arabic translation and was confirmed by his signature, all this raises at this stage suspicion of him being dangerous.
In terms of human speech, the judge accuses the youth that on top of having committed forbidden activities, he is also lying to the court, because he has confirmed…signed…
Finally, the judge said: much to my regret, I cannot accept the defense’s request for a repeated interrogation, though the defense is welcome, if he so wishes, to submit tomorrow a request for advancing the next session, which, if his reasons are convincing, will no doubt be granted.
I have reported on this session in detail because to my knowledge tens like it are taking place every day. Next session on 01.01.08, which means that the boy will stay in detention for at least another two months, pending the next session dealing with his case.