Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Remand Extension

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Roni Hammermann, Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Russian Compound

Translation: Jonathan M. 

This is the second straight week in which a police convention is held in the remand court. Among those waiting for the court to clear out are: the judge (Gabriel Malach), court recorder, translator, lawyers and ourselves. The detainee was also waiting down the corridor behind a closed door; he was blindfolded and made to stand up.


When the court room finally cleared, we discovered that the computer was not working – just as it was the previous week. Technicians came and went, bringing in different extension cords, but with little success. Up until 11:15 the court recorder wrote down the protocol by hand, and it will be faxed later to the lawyers.


Itzik, the investigator, arrived carrying 20 file; five of these files belonged to detaineesinfo-icon that were barred from meeting with their attorneys. After the attorney presented one of the cases of the barred detainees, we were asked, as usual, to leave. We asked the judge what did the fact that the detainee was barred from meeting with an attorney have to do with the publicity of the case. The judge gave the investigator the “right” to answer our question. We were told that the reason was a procedural one; there was a fear that we might communicate with the detainee in some form, either by words or signals, passing confidential information.


Two of the detainees, represented by attorneys Iliya Theodory and Lea Tzemel, had reached an agreement regarding their remand in custody without the presence of their attorneys. The procedure was quick, and they were removed from the court room as the judge was reading his decision, assumingly to save time.


Since there were many cases, and the protocol was handwritten, the judge and the investigator asked the attorneys to keep their statements as short as possible. They repeated their request even after the computer was fixed.

About five of the cases will be transferred to the Ofer Military Court.


One of the twenty cases was handled by attorney Billal Mahfuz. Attorney Mahfuz made both the judge and the investigator uneasy by asking tough questions and expecting answers. Such an occurrence is rare.


Through his questions attorney Mahfuz tried to understand the nature of his case against his client. The specific charge was: “Hammas”. Mahfuz wanted to know if the charge is voting for Hammas in the elections or some other activity. He claimed that if the charge is voting for Hammas than approximately a million and a half Palestinians need to be arrested.


The investigator answered that this was not the charge.


“If so, it seems like there is some new charge. My client has recently recieved an Identity Card from the Palestinian Authority (with the permission of Israel). Had he broken the law he would not have received a card.


The investigator clarified that there was no connection between receiving the ID and the charges; he then asked for remand in custody. The judge interjected and asked attorney Mahfuz to shorten his questioning.


The investigator asked for remand in custody of 22 days.


The judge approved 11 days.