Ofer - Shooting, Holding and trading of combat materiel
Translation: Marganit W.
First, we attended Justice Ronen Atzmon’s court, where Atty. Hamza Abu Maizer was the defense. Two cases were heard, both of detainees who had been released on bail and, hence, had come from their homes.
Ossam, a handsome man in his thirties, with no prior convictions, is charged with hunting without a license in 2008. The man kept - on his own property -a net and three cages with five birds intended as bait for other birds, all this without a hunting license. He claims that he did not know he was breaking the law.
Ossam accepted the charges, and, after a plea bargain, the judge imposed a 1000-shekel fine and a suspended sentence for two years.
After the trial we learnt that when Ossam was brought in, he spent five days in custody and had to deposit 2000 shekels bail.
The cages will be returned and hopefully half the bail too.
Maher Muhammad, 40 years old and father of 4. He has no prior convictions and had lived in Italy for many years. Upon his return he bought a used car with an Israeli license plate from a guy who conned him by giving him false registration papers. The accused was caught driving the vehicle, which was promptly impounded. After a five-hour interrogation, he was released on 1000 shekel bail. Now he is charged with driving an Israeli car, not registered in the region and with presenting false papers.
The judge accepts the plea bargain, which includes one week suspended sentence for two years and a 750-shekel fine.
Maher, who claims he did not know the car was contraband and had no way of locating the seller, was doubly victimized: the police transferred the car to New Koppel Company, and the money he had invested in the purchase and in upgrades was lost. Now he has to pay a fine to boot.
Maher was pleased with the fact that we observe and record what goes on in the military courts, but insisted – probably correctly – that this is not what will bring true change.
We then observed two trials at Justice Zvi Heilbron’s court:
With Atty. Akram Smara present, we met the defendant Hamdi Hassan Ismail Nimer, arrested in Qalandiya in 2009 on three charges:
1. Throwing fire bombs at military vehicles on numerous occasions (between 2004-2009)
2. Firing at a power pylon and at an army post from a distance of 150 meters
3. Buying and using a revolver
Today’s hearing was the concluding session, and the judge accepted the plea bargain, sentencing the defendant to 40-months in jail and 3000 shekel fine – a reduced sentence due to the time that elapsed since violation No. 1 was committed and due to the ineffective shooting range in charge number 2.
After some delay we observed the evidentiary stage in the trial of Jamal Samih Abed Alkarim Yassin from Beit Rima.
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Jamal is charged with throwing objects and with participation in a demonstration at Nebi Salah [against the separation wall].
Jamal was arrested three and half months ago, after the guy who had incriminated him had been released from 6 months in jail. Now, at the evidentiary stage, the incriminating witness has already been summoned three times to testify, but the prosecution has not been able to enforce the subpoena.
Using opportunistic ruses, the prosecution sent the army to fetch another witness, but absent the original incriminator, neither side saw any point in interrogating him. The soldiers entered Beit Rima in the dead of night, roused the man from bed and hauled him, shackled, to the court. The prosecution did not address him, the defense saw no reason to question him, so he was released. The judge, displaying some black humor, said “Thank you for coming” to the man, and instructed the soldiers to return him to the checkpoint and send him home. (Door to door service, apparently, works only in one direction, even when it is completely unjustified).
The prosecution requested enforcing the subpoena, or in other words, to detain the defendant longer until his incriminator can be produced.
The defense, obviously, objected, claiming that no proven effort had been made to produce the incriminator, and that this failure should not impinge on the defendant. Since the charges are not serious, and only one clause (throwing objects) is under discussion, the court should voice its impatience with the protracted proceedings and instruct the prosecution to declare, “the prosecution rests its case”.
From reading the protocol of the session, we learned that in the decision given after the recess the judge ordered the defendant released under restricted conditions, after depositing bail, but the judge also acceded to the prosecution’s demand to delay the release by 72 hours.