Ofer

Observers: 
Tova Szeintuch, Roni Hammermann (reporting)
Jan-14-2008
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We observed today in courtroom 2 with a panel of 3 judges.
Dalya Kaufman presided the panel, Amir Dahan and a woman whose name we don't know were the other judges.

14 cases were scheduled for this day and we heard 5 of them before the lunch break. 

At 10:35 the electricity went off, the judges retreated and returned at 11:00.


Dalya Kaufman is a very energetic and effective president. She tries to uphold some order, addresses the defendants personally by name, makes sure that they understand every detail of the indictment and speaks sometimes in Arabic to them.
But in her very didactic way and in her endeavor to make the courtroom a "pleasant" place, she only underscores the Farce that takes place at the Military court.

Everything is done as if this was a regular court. There are judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, interpreters, typists and even a public (2 representatives of the defendant's family and we), which means that the court has nothing to hide. There is only one little blemish, namely that the defendant has only 0.3% chances to be found not guilty (of 9123 cases concluded  in the military courts in the year 2006, only in 23 cases the defendant was found to be not guilty. See Yesh Din report from December 2007 "Backyard Proceedings" )
So Kaufman's clearly formulated question whether the defendant understands what he is being charged of and whether he  confesses to the charges is basically irrelevant. Within a system in which the presumption  that a person is innocent until proven guilty is overturned, it is not so important if you understand the charges, which will be put against you in any case, whether you confess or not. What is being negotiated in the hearings is only the amount of the punishment.

Another aspect we observed was the fact that in none of the 5 sessions any evidence was presented, although this was supposed to be the task of the hearings. The evidentiary session was delayed, and the  scheduling of alternative dates was discussed by the 3 judges, the defence lawyer and the prosecution with great ardor as if this was the most important activity of the court. 
In 3 cases the hearings of the witnesses were delayed to a later date, between February and April.  In another case the witness account will be presented in written form.

In the last session of the morning  the defense lawyer Samara complained that he could not find the material concerning a witness of the prosecution in the file of his defendant for over 6 months . The prosecutor was angered about this complaint and argued that Samara just could have asked her and she would have produced the material, which can probably be found  in the file of the defendant's partner. Amir Dahan, the second judge, came to Samara's aid and quoted a sentence from the protocol of 6 months ago, where the prosecution was ordered to 'make!' the witness account available to the defense. Dahan mentioned that the failure by the prosecution to provide material to the defense  is happening for the fourth time this week.
Dalya Kaufman wanted to show her objectivity and scolded both the prosecution and the defense. "I feel like a kindergarten teacher. 2 grown-up people quarrelling with each other. We want to have a good atmosphere in the court, and both of you should behave accordingly. Therefore both of you will use the lunch brake to find the witness account and to prepare for the investigation of the witness which will take place today at 14:00!" 
We could not stay in the afternoon but it is easy to imagine how "thoroughly" the defense lawyer could prepare himself in 1 1/2 hours time after he had been prevented to access the material for 6 months.  
But most important was the fact, that the farce of a "due process" was being sustained.