Salem - Plea Bargain, Shooting
Translation: Jonathan M.
Military court in Salem (Samaria Military Court), Sunday 4/11/07, am.
09:00-10:50 – we came to observe the continuation of the trial of Omar Abed Alrauf Mustafa Haled from the village of Jayous. Omar had been accused in the use of shooting at a human being and of preparing and planting a bomb. We were present at the arraignment session on 20.6.07 and at the evidentiary session. No witnesses were called since the prosecutor and the defense attorney had reached an agreement.
09:00 The entrance to the court is busy with people. A detainee bus arrives, policemen, guards from the prison service, members of the prosecution and the courts, military policemen – everyone is busy. The list of hearings has not yet been hung on the court’s doors. We entered the reception office and to our surprise were greeted by a polite soldier. She looked up the location of the hearing and printed out a list of the different hearings scheduled for courtroom 3 (where Haled’s hearing was to take place) for that day.
Single judge – Major Carmel Wahabi
Prosecution – Lieutenant ……?
We sat through six different hearings; all the defendants were minors or were minors at the time of committing the offense. The defense lawyer is attorney Adnan Raabi, who is there on behalf of D.C.I (Defense for Children International).
09:25 Seven defendants are brought into the courtroom. Defense attorney Adnan Raabi enters and talks to those who are his clients. There are eight members of the Prison Service and four Military Policemen in the courtroom.
09:35 Family members of the defendants are brought into the court room, including the parents of Omar Haled. His weeping mother kisses us and his father shakes our hands. A military policewoman claims that the father of one of the defendants cursed her and asks from another military policeman to remove him from the room. The father leaves. Attorney Raabi tries to find out what happened.
09:40 The judge enters the court.
Omar Abed Alrauf Mustafa Haled is charged with firing a weapon towards a person and additional charges. Attorney Raabi says that more time is needed to talk with the family. A new date is set to 10.1.2008. Later he will explain to us what happened.
Mohab Mohamad Abed Alhamid Salim is charged with firing a weapon towards a person and additional charges. Mohab Salim was an accomplice to Omar Haled. The man who was removed before from the courtroom is his father. The judge instructs, in contrast to protocol, to let the father back in, since the hearings will be concluded on that day.
Abed Alrahman Said Awaad Marzuk is charged with possession and selling of weapons. A disagreement arises between the prosecutor and the defense attorney regarding the plea bargain. The prosecutor says that they had agreed on 8 months imprisonment while the defense attorney says they agreed on 7 months. The judge wants to postpone the hearing when the defense attorney changes his mind and agrees with the prosecutor and the hearing continues. The judge makes sure that the defendant pleads guilty to the corrected indictment and that he understands that the court is not bound by the agreement reached by the prosecution and the defense. On the day of his arrest the defendant tried to sneak two pipe bombs through the Beit-Iba checkpoint and was caught by the security forces at the checkpoint. The defendant attempted to smuggle the bombs on the request of another person who could not be traced. The judge mentions the young age of the defendant, his guilty plea that saved the court time, his clean record and the fact that he was not the instigator and accepts the plea bargain. The defendant is sentenced to 8 months imprisonment beginning from the day of his arrest on 09.06.07, a fine of NIS 2,000 or two more additional months imprisonment and 12 months probation for 5 years.
We return to Mohab Mohamad Abed Alhamid Salim whose father was returned to the courtroom. A plea bargain is reached – 34 months imprisonment. The defendant pleads guilty to the corrected indictment: shooting at a person and building and possessing a bomb. The prosecutor asks the court to accept the plea bargain, since the defendant was a minor at the time of his actions; he did not act alone and did not actually fire the weapon. The weapon was an improvised shotgun that did not cause real damage, the defendant has a clean record, and his admittance saved the court’s time. The defense attorney mentions a similar case in which a similar sentence was approved.
The judge says that the plea bargain is too lenient and does not reflect the appropriate punishment. The shooting incident took place a month before the arrest and the additional offense took place on the day of the arrest. This shows that the defendant was set on endangering regional security and harming innocent people. This was an organized activity that involved a number of people. The defendant was responsible for throwing rocks towards the fence in order to lure security forces to the area in order for his accomplices to open fire.
The second offense represents an increase in the seriousness of the defendant’s activities, since in this case he was the instigator. He intended to create explosivedevices, testing them and eventually using them at a military checkpoint and was only stopped as a result of the activity of the security forces. As a result the judge says that the plea bargain does not seem to be balanced. There is tension in the courtroom. The defense attorney later tells us that he was afraid that the bargain would be rejected by the court.
The judge eventually accepts the plea bargain since the defendant based his admittance on this plea, and since he is of young age and his actions did not cause harm. He is sentenced to 34 months imprisonment, starting on the day of his arrest – 26.02.07, a NIS 2,000 fine or an additional two months imprisonment and 36 months probation.
Hasham Ahmed Muhammad Jadan is charged with planting a bomb. Attorney Muhammad Halabi joins Attorney Adnan Raabi.
There is a plea bargain: 50 months imprisonment. The prosecutor and the defense attorney state the reasons for the plea bargain. The defendant does not wish to speak.
The judge says that the charge is very serious - an attack during which a 5 kg explosive device was activated and the defendant’s accomplice fired an M16 assault rifle on the security forces. It was a miracle that no damage was caused. The part the defendant played is not completely clear. According to the judge, the plea bargain is very lenient, but he eventually adopts it. The judge says that he is giving the defendant a second chance considering his young age (17 years old). He sets harsh probation terms in order to deter the defendant.
The defendant is sentenced to 50 months imprisonment, starting on the day of his arrest – 1/1/2007, a NIS 2,000 fine or an additional two months imprisonment and 36 months probation.
Adham Muhammad Ali Abu Hadrus is charged with an attempt to cause death. He is defended by attorneys Adnan Raabi and Muhammad Halabi.
There is a plea bargain: 36 months imprisonment. The prosecutor and the defense attorneys go over their reasoning for plea bargain. The defendant and his accomplices conspired to plant a bomb but did not get hold of any explosives; their plan did not come to fruition, and no damage was caused; a long time has passed since the plan was agreed on and the actual arrest; the defendant, 17 years of age, did not commit any other crimes during this period. The judge accepts the plea bargain, despite the fact that the defendant was the instigator of the plan.
The defendant is sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, starting on the day of his arrest, a NIS 2,000 fine or an additional two months imprisonment and a probation period.
Defendants and their families are taken out of the courtroom. The mother of Omar Haled kisses us again; she tries to talk to us but must leave the room.
Ahmed Fahami Ibrahim Shaaban is charged with an attempt to cause death. Arguments for sentencing presented by attorney Adnaan Raabi.
The judge orders to move the defendant – a minor – to a different bench, since adult defendants are brought into the courtroom. The defendant was involved in a conspiracy that did not come to fruition and did not cause any harm. The judge accepts the plea bargain of 36 months imprisonment, starting on the day of his arrest – 24.10.06, a NIS 2,000 fine or an additional 2 months imprisonment and 36 months probation.
10:45 We left the courtroom. It was very difficult to sit through six trials of minors. They could have had a different childhood. Attorney Raabi exits the courtroom. We ask him about the postponement in the trial of Omar Haled. Attorney Raabi told us that the plea bargain stated a 38 month imprisonment, but Omar changed his mind and wanted to plea it down to 34 months, like his accomplice, Moham Salim, who did not fire. Attorney Raabi said that he would try to convince Omar and his parents to accept the plea bargain, since without it, he is likely to get a much higher sentence.