Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
In Courtroom 2, presided by Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai, about 20 boys from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron, Abu-Dis and other places were brought in for hearing. Note that the average detention period of these children is between 2-7 months!
Apart from that, everything is familiar and repetitive: the children’s detention – some would call it kidnapping – in the middle of the night, when the army burst into their homes, terrorizing the sleeping families, forcing the father to turn in the son, while the soldiers mill around the house. This scene happens in hundreds of Palestinian homes every year. The charges are the usual ones too: preparing and/or throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and other objects. Essentially, the system seeks to extract a confession and obtain a plea bargain under the threat of long detention. Again and again we witness the distress of kids having to choose between honor and truth and despair and surrender.
The Abu Dis group consists of more than 10 kids, already in custody for more than 4 months. They get to meet their parents only in court. The four we saw today have resisted the pressure from the system and refused to accept the charges.
Without a confession there is no plea bargain and no release.
Hearing will continue on 7.2.11 (see earlier report )
Jihad Erikat – Case No. 3968/10 – 16.5 years old
Defense: Atty. Ahmad Safiya
Like the others, Jihad has been in detention since 16.9.10. He signed a deposition without knowing its content, but now he denies the charges and rejects the plea bargain. It turns out that the interrogator threatened to put him in jail for a long time if he does not confess, telling him that his friends had incriminated him and would testify against him. So far Jihad has not yielded under pressure.
Witnesses will be summoned for a hearing in a month – a long time for Jihad, during which he won’t see his family, nor attend school, and will be kept under pressure of the system.
Walid Haled Jumaa Sharef – Case No.5317/10, 17.5 years old
Defense: Atty. Akram Samara
Haled has been in detention for 40 days. He has a congenital disease, which can be seen in his face and hands. In the past he was treated at Hadassah. Most of the discussion was about his health. The defense demands an examination by an external physician. The judge responded that on 9.12.10 Haled was seen by the prison doctor and found to be all right, no deterioration was noted in his condition. The defense insists that a doctor appointed by the family decide if Haled can stay in jail.
The judge now changes her tune: she goes along with the defense, explaining that the prosecution won’t object. Perhaps our presence in court helped “soften” the judge’s position.
The father claims that Haled cannot use his hands normally, thus the charges against him are trumped. It is impossible that the investigator did not see this. He must have deliberately ignored it and omitted it from the report, so as not to vitiate the indictment.
Haled does not accept the charges. He complains that the interrogator roughed him up and cursed him.
It is decided to summon the interrogator to testify in the next hearing.
Fadi Erikat – Case No. 4076/10, 16 years old.
Muhammad Ayad – Case No. 4702/10, 16 years old.
Defense: Atty. Muhammad Ramzi Mahmoud
In both cases the process was very short. Since there is no plea bargain, a new date for evidentiary hearing was set when prosecution witnesses will testify.
Abdullah Abu Awad– Case No. 2847/10, 17 years old, from Ramallah
Defense: Atty. Akram Samara
When Abdullah was 13, the Israeli army gouged his eye. He has a glass eye. He has been in detention for 7 months on charges of “manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object” on military jeeps between 2008-1010. Moreover, he is accused of “being a member of a military unit” since he was 14!
Here is another example of the phenomenon of “recruited children:” against their will, Palestinian children are turned into Palestinian soldiers by the Israeli occupier, who, from the moment of arrest, treats them as adults, in contravention of international convention on children’s rights. Not surprisingly, after 7 months months in detention, Abdullah was forced to accept a plea bargain. When he stood between the judge and his mother admitting his guilt, his body language expressed the demeaning oppression that forced him to do so. The result: 20-month jail term! Plus one year suspended sentence for 4 years and a 2000 shekel fine.
Bahar Kamel, 17.5 years old. He was brought to court after having been released on bail.
He was accompanied by his mother. He had been released because of insufficient evidence. He denied the allegations. There was a problem with the incriminating evidence, and it was doubtful if the prosecution would be able to summon the witnesses who had been released in the meantime.
Still, a plea bargain was presented and accepted by the court. According to the agreement, charges of participation in demonstrations and damage to tires were dropped, and only the charge of rock throwing remained.
Behar was sentenced to 17 days in jail, to coincide with time spent in detention, plus suspended sentence of 3 months for 2 years and a 1500 shekel fine to be deducted from money deposited upon his release.