Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Remand Extension, Barred (from meeting with attorney)

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Roni Hammermann, Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Russian Compound 

Judge: Azriel Levi (res.)

Police investigator: Nissim Turjeman

Defense: Atty. Fahmi Shkirat and Atty. Maamoun Hashim

There are 4 cases before the court, one of them deals with a detainee barred from seeing an attorney.

When attending hearings at the Russian Compound, we’re obliged to announce by fax our intention to attend ahead of time. After checking our IDs we are examined by a policewoman, who is summoned from inside the facility. Sometimes the policewoman is busy. Today, for example, we had to wait 20 minutes.

Justice Levi came to the window where we were waiting for the identification check and greeted us warmly before entering the court. He asked twice that the security check  be speeded up, insisting that he would not start the hearing without us!!!

In the first case – represented by Atty. Hashim – there was an agreement: remand extension of 8 days, and then the case is to be assigned to the military prosecution. The hearing lasted one minute and the translation another minute.

The second case was of a “barred” detainee. By mistake, the detainee was brought into the room, blindfolded and shackled. When he was identified as “barred”, he was taken out and only his attorney, Maamoun Hashim remained.

We showed Justice Levi the preliminary High Court injunction that regulates our presence in both parts of the discussion. The judge read it and said he’d decide according to the circumstances of the case.

The police investigator requests a15-day investigation.

The accused was arrested near Hebron (the village Dura) on 3.11.10.

the charge:  security risk to the region.

Questions: Was the investigation necessary? Where was he arrested? On what grounds was he arrested?

There answer is one and the same: Check the confidential file.

Question: Since 3.11.10 has the accused had ‘frontal interrogation’ at the GSS?

Answer: Yes.

Q: You agree with me that there he has cooperated?

A: It’s in the confidential report.

Q: Has he linked himself to the violation?

A: It’s in the confidential report.

Maamoun requests the judge’s intervention to obtain an answer to the last question.

Decision: The question must be answered.

A: All I can say is: it is in the confidential report. Had it not been confidential, I would have answered.

Q: Is the defendant accused of belonging to a [hostile] organization? Hamas?

A: It's in the confidential report.

Justice Levi turns to the defense and offers a court-initiated agreement, saying:

I have read the report. The defendant will be barred from meeting an attorney until Thursday. I agree to a remand extension until next Monday, and we will check how the police has used this time. Then we’ll decide if the case should be transferred to the prosecution, or further remand is called for.

Atty. Hashim accepts the deal to extend the remand only until Monday.

The Investigator says he is not authorized to accept an agreement between the court and the defense, insisting: we request 15 days.

The defense leaves the court. Justice Levi determines that we may stay. The Investigator objects, requesting hearing behind closed doors, but the judge states that he has read the file and sticks to his decision. We remain in the courtroom.

The detainee is brought in. It turns out that the detainee is blind (still, his eyes are blindfolded when he enters and leaves the room – just to be on the safe side…)

The judge asks the detainee if he knows where he is and informs him about the agreement with his attorney. Then the detainee is taken out of the room.

Justice Levi’s decision (in my words): having read the file he finds that the allegations warrant investigation. However, he advises caution in extending the remand, especially in view of the fact that the detainee is prohibited from seeing his attorney. This prohibition is a worrying deviation from the natural laws of justice. Hence, the judge accedes only in part to the remand extension request.

The judge orders remand extension until Monday [7 days] hoping that the police will use its time wisely.

In the third case there is an agreement between the sides: remand extension for 8 days and assigning the case to the prosecution.

The fourth case is represented by Atty. Firas. Since he is not present, at his request the case is represented by Atty. Shkirat.

By the time the detainee is brought in, an agreement has been reached between the court and the defense for a 9-day extension and assigning the case to the prosecution.

We noted two important things today: A judge can reach independent decisions (not just automatically accede to the Investigator’s demands) and the remand extensions need not be an easy tool in the hands of the police but constitute time for the effective investigation.