Petah Tikva - Danger to Regional Security, Remand Extension
Judge: Major Adi Feigel
Prosecutor: Atef Ouida
Defence attorneys: Advc. Nizar Mahajna, Advc. Abed
Stenographer: Corporal Dror Mandela
Interpreter: Sergeant Salman KasurVolunteer policeman: Aharon
I noted almost all that was possible on this exceptional day of hearings, in that it showed how far you can venture under the protection of the law. There was also much more information in the hearings.
Today there are 12 detainees, including two “prohibited.”
The session began at 10:45. The judge rebuked everyone and informed them, while writing his decision, that henceforward hearings will begin at 09:30 and everyone must report in by then – attorneys and detainees. All those responsible are to be informed.
Today it was possible to hear everything clearly. The judge (with nothing to hide and interested that justice should be seen) and the defense attorneys spoke in tones that could be heard.
The judge relates with deep seriousness to this court, reads every report on the detainee that is brought before him, rules interim decisions on questions that the defense raises to the prosecutor (prevents him from asking information of the prosecutor), and rules according to prosecution requests. From time to time he comments in a severe tone of voice to those present in the courtroom to stop talking – and even the flies are silent.
Each hearing lasts a long time. By 13:00 only five hearings had taken place. Then the court recessed for lunch, and I had to leave.
Advc. Mahajna told me about detainee Marwan Ibrahim Aziz for whom two hearings took place without his presence, at Ofer Detention Centre. The reason, according to him, was that Aziz is among “planted” people who are supposed to make him talk, and they did not want to stop the process. There is, so he says, “Amendment 95" from August 2007 that allows a hearing without the presence of the suspect. The hearing, with reservations, was in the court of Lt. Colonel Netanel Benishu, the Deputy President of Ofer Military Court (incidentally, Mahajna recommends to us to read Benishu’s verdicts on the web).
I got from Mahajna the name of a detainee who had two brain strokes and was remanded in custody. Today he is a detainee suffering from two disc lesions in his back and neck, who for five days was interrogated 20 hours a day while being chained hand and foot to a chair. Endless attempts to get the medical material to Physicians for Human Rights had failed.
1. Yasser Wua’il Abadi, Sebastia, arrested 19.12.07, request: 8 days remand.
(Abadi is 17 years old, looks younger. The judge notices and asks how he feels, and how they are treating him. He announces that the detainee was already prohibited, and this is the second remand request.)
Advc. Abadi: we object to the request. The accused has given a statement. Since then he has been interrogated sporadically. The last time was four days ago. Nothing to add to his statement. Requests that the file be transferred to the military prosecution with an order to complete the investigation if the court sees fit to extend the remand.
Judge: after study... remand extension of 8 days.
2. Haled Mahmoud Salame, arrested 11.11.07, request: 15 days.
(he is 48 years old – not a young man)
Prosecutor: the suspect was arrested on 11.11.07 and passed on to the administrative routing on 17.11.07. The administrative warrant was cut on 20.11.07 and a new arrest order was issued in order to transfer him to the investigative route. Reference is to serious offences which the detainee denies.
Defense: why was it decided to stop the administrative detention and transfer him for investigation?
Prosecutor: I assume this was a decision of the legislative body.
Defense: you agree with me that there was a decision to release him on bail?
Prosecutor: on 18.11.07, before Judge Halabi, it was decided to release him, then a request was submitted to delay implementation.
Defense: is it true that there was no material to substantiate an indictment, and then the request to delay implementation was submitted?
Judge: (loud) Ruling! Defines what the defense attorney may ask the prosecutor. To the defense: “It’s clear that if they submit a request for investigation, it arises from the investigation...”
Defense: has there been new investigative material since 17.11.07?
Prosecutor: looks around as though seeking an answer. The judge hastens to announce: Ruling! Issues a written decision and explains to the defense attorney that the issuance of an administrative order is because they perhaps decided not to expose the investigation source.
Defense: are others involved in the case?
Prosecutor: there are a few... There is suspicion that the suspect is a member of Hamas. They said this to him and he denied, and did not cooperate or agree to be tested on a polygraph.
The prosecutor reiterates the prosecution request for remand extension, and contends that there are serious suspicions.
Defence: contends that the suspect refuses a polygraph test by the police because he has negative experience with them. If an opportunity will be given for an external polygraph administered by an objective company, he will recommend to his client to be tested.
A semantic debate ensues between the defense attorney and the prosecutor on the meaning of “the suspect does not cooperate.” Does the detainee’s denying the charges against him signify lack of cooperation? The prosecutor has difficulty in explaining what he means, but the judge is not interested in being hard on him, and he stops the discussion after the prosecutor’s words.
Defense: the accused is an adult with family for whom he is the sole provider. He is an engineer working in a well known place, serves as infrastructure advisor in the [Palestinian] Authority, and his detention can only harm the current Palestinian government.
Judge: on 18.11.07 a decision was made to extend the suspect’s remand, after which an administrative warrant against the suspect was issued on 20.11.07, and on 5.12.07 the detainee was brought before the Administrative Affairs Court for a critical hearing on the warrant. In the course of that hearing, a decision was given, after study of reliable intelligence material. A suspicion arose that there is security danger to the region if the suspect is released.
On 17.12.07 the suspect was transferred to investigation and accordingly a request was made to shorten the warrant. From study of the restricted material present at the remand extension hearing on 24.12.07 I learnt the reasons for transfer of the accused to investigation. These reasons are secret... I order remand extension of 15 days.
The hearing lasted 50 minutes.
3. Ziad Nabia Marish, from Nablus, arrested on 11.12.07, request: 15 days.
He too is an elderly man.
Advc. Abed: in the previous investigation plan, was it written that Shabak (GSS) investigators are to interrogate him for 5 straight days, 20 hours a day while he is chained hand and foot to a chair?
Prosecutor: Not to my knowledge. I do not have to accept everything the suspect says.
Judge: issues decision! The secret report contains restricted information. A question of whether a certain contention is or is not in the secret report is not one that the investigator has to answer. A question of this sort is empty of content because of the immunity of information that is in the secret report. For our purpose, I order that there is to be no answer to the question of whether in the secret report there is reference to the length or manner of interrogation of the detainee.
Defense: requests that the court orders investigation of the matter.
Judge: interrogation of the detainee, like the interrogation of any other detainee is supposed to take place according to the rules. In as much as the defense attorney is convinced that a certain interrogation was not carried out according to the rules, he must take the appropriate steps. At the same time, in order to save and deny to all involved, the supervisor of the investigation will check whether interrogation of the detainee was carried out according to the obligatory procedures.
Defense: did the suspect cooperate with the investigators?
Prosecutor: not entirely.
Defense: what do you mean? Didn’t answer or denied?
Prosecutor: not answering.
Defence: do you have an answer as to why the investigation has not been completed until this day?
Prosecutor: because he does not cooperate and makes no effort to advance his interrogation.
(On this point there is also a discussion as to the nature of cooperation with the investigating authority; is denial of charges considered non cooperation?)
Defense: the suspect cooperates, but denies the charges. It is not that he does not cooperate, but that he does not admit the charges brought against him. The investigation is stalemated. It moves slowly and an extension of remand will not add material to that which the prosecution seeks to achieve. He requests to release him already today, also in consideration of his medical condition.
Judge: held in detention since 17.12.07. Brought before me for extension of remand and a decision was given for 17 days. I ordered completion of the medical reports, and in the hearing that has taken place today, I have been presented with reports from which it ensues that the detainee has been examined by a doctor more than ten times. On this issue it will be noted that the detainee has been examined by different doctors, and in these circumstances it is apparent that the detainee is being held in satisfactory conditions considering his medical condition. In the frame of the decision given on 17.12.07 I noted that the investigating authority appears to have invested considerable efforts to advance the investigation, and that there is considerable material to support the suspicions that connect the detainee with the acts attributed to him... It seems to me that the accused is hampering the progress of the investigation., behaviour that causes the drawing out of the investigation, while the investigating authority is trying to advance the investigation and is investing considerable effort.... If the detainee does not cooperate, the remand request is too short for this investigation. The intention is not admission of the charges, but the giving of responses and agreement to the holding of investigative actions (such as, for example, confrontation, polygraph, etc.). The detainee is also entitled, of course, not to cooperate, and in that event he must take into account that this will lead in certain cases to prolongation of the investigation.
Extension of remand by 15 days.
The hearing lasted 45 minutes.
4.; Hussein Zalach Abu Lil, Balata Refugee Camp, arrested 11.12.07, request: 15 days.
Age 19, looks like a child.
Advc. Abed: arrested 24 days ago. The investigation does not proceed. Till today no statement has been taken from the defendant.
Judge: the defense contentions about advance of the investigation do not meet with the results of the investigation. At this stage, it appears that the suspect was involved centrally in an extremely serious affair, which has considerable impact on the security of the region. The full extraction of investigative material is essential, not only for the benefit of the investigation, but also for the essential need of regional security. In these circumstances, it was justified that the investigating authority gave priority and invested resources in order to advance the investigation. At this stage, examination of the required actions for completing the investigation, because of its complexity, indicate that the requested period is reasonable and for this purpose we note clauses (x) in the secret report. It may be that an additional extension of remand will be required accordingly.
Extension of remand 15 days.
5. Muhammad Abdeljani Alkarim Kanaza, from Nablus, arrested 4.12.07, request: 15 days. Not young.
In the pocket of his jacket, a small book (Koran?). Seems upset and angry and talks a lot with the defense attorney.
Advc. Abed: we object to the request. He was arrested on 4.11.07 and his remand has already been extended twice. Among the investigative actions, according to the detainee’s understanding, was a confrontation with another suspect who was put in his cell. There was an argument between them, since the detainee suspected that Haled who was put in his cell was the one who implicated him in things that he had not done. Haled returned to Megiddo Prison. The accused knew him in the detention cell, and the investigators told him that Haled had incriminated him. Yesterday they brought someone called Jihad who said that he had worked with the detainee in electrical jobs. The detainee did not remember him. Apart from these actions, he was not interrogated. He gave a statement to the investigator. There is nothing in a remand extension that will change his version, and there is no additional material that can add to the investigation. Requests that the detainee be released on conditions that the court....
Judge: from study of the file... apparent evidence to justify continued investigation. As for the requested period, study of..., in the classified report teaches that the requested period is reasonable for the purposes of completion of the investigation, nevertheless I shorten the period to 9 days, for the following reasons:
a. I have been convinced that there is nothing in shortening the remand that will detract from completion of the activities, and therefore shortening to 9 days won’t harm the activities on the one hand, and will facilitate judicial supervision of progress of the investigation on the other hand.
B. The second reason is that I consider that the investigation may be delayed because of non cooperation on the part of the suspect, which will ostensibly hamper actions of the investigation. To the degree that he will cooperate in his interrogation, which of course he is not obligated to do, this can further the investigation. Perhaps a shorter period will be required than that requested.
C. I object to the need for the investigative actions linked to clauses... ,; it may well be that in the course of the coming week it will become clear that a longer period is needed than that requested today. Therefore, also for this reason, it is desirable to examine matters at the next remand extension hearing.