Ofer - Holding and trading of combat materiel
Military Court of Appeals
We came to hear the appeal against the Salem Military Court's verdict in the trial
of Aref Amarna on 2.1.08 at which we were present.
Aref Amarna was charged with membership in the Democratic Front since 2002, acquisition of a Carlo rifle for 14,000 shekels, possession of 200 cartridges and three magazines.
The accused admitted the amended indictment, but there was no plea bargain regarding the punishment. The prosecutor demanded 36 months imprisonment, while Defense Attorney Ahmad Raslan suggested 12 months.
Judge Carmel Wahabi sentenced the accused to 30 months, and the defense decided to lodge an appeal.
The sentence was given without the related arguments, because of computer problems at Salem. As of the date of the appeal, written arguments had not been received, and the defense attorney got a letter from the court secretariat, saying that the judge had not yet written the verdict.
The hearing was set for 13:00, but in fact the defendant, his attorney and family, were only called into court at 14:20.
We passed the time meanwhile in the company of the anxious family and relatives of other defendants in the comfortable and warm waiting room of the courthouse. The comfort of the place does not reduce its great sadness.
14:20 - the defendant talks with his parents in the courtroom, without interference. The parents calm down a bit when they see their son wearing a warm coat and looking good.
14:25 - the judge, Lieutenant Colonel Benishu, enters the court. argue
The judge does know that the verdict including its arguments has not arrived, and he says that it is not possible to hear the appeal. The defense attorney explains that the hearing at Salem mentioned a computer hitch, but in practice the arguments had not yet been written.
The judge reiterates that it is not possible to hold a hearing, and adds that if the defendant was likely to be released immediately, there would be a point to press for the hearing, but that is not the case. He adds that the delay in providing the arguments - less than 30 days - is still reasonable.
The defense attorney emphasizes the incorrectness of not giving the written arguments and quotes the previous president of the Supreme Court, Barak. The attorney contends that it is possible to invalidate the verdict. He stresses the words of the Salem judge that the reasons were not given to the parties as a result of the computer failure, and expresses his fear that the judge, because of the multiplicity of cases in his court, has already forgotten his reasoning.
The judge and the defense attorney repeat their contentions a number of times, and each is adamant in his viewpoint.
The judge suggests two possibilities: to delete the appeal and resubmit it when the verdict will be complete, or to keep the appeal and issue a decision that the reasoning will be provided within one week.
The attorney asks to consult the parents, and then accepts the judge's offer to keep the appeal.
14:40 - the judge rules that there is no cause to proceed with the appeal, since the reasoning for the verdict has not yet been given, and the judge at Salem is to provide the written material by 3.2.08. The court secretariat will coordinate a new date for the hearing.
We wait with the parents to hear the new date.
15:00 - the appeal will be heard on 13.2.08. We will continue to follow up.