Ofer - Stone Throwing, Interrogation of Witness
Translation: Marganit W.
Courtroom 2: Juvenile Court
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
Prosecutor: Eshhar Erez
Defense: Atty. Akram Samara
Defendant: Amir Bastami, age 15-16, from Abu-Dis.
Charge: throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. The trial has so far lasted several weeks.
(His father is present in the court, but later in the day he will attend trial in Courtroom 5, where his other son, Mahdi Bastami, age 17, is on trial for a similar offense. He has a third son, 5 years old, who is brain damaged).
In today’s hearing Amir Bastami is not the center of attention. A witness for the prosecution, 16-year old Muhammad Basheeti, testifies before the court for most of the morning session. He was among the Abu-Dis rock throwers, and apparently has incriminated the defendant and others. On another day and in another hearing we will probably see on the witness stand whoever had incriminated him.
The lengthy examination by the prosecutor, followed by cross-examination by the defense, reveal the horrible ordeal that minors are routinely subjected to in the military courts.
The prosecutor focuses on questions posed by the police interrogator and on the answers given by the witness during the interrogation. Muhammad Basheeti was arrested and interrogated at Maale Adomim police station on 4.11.10. It was the only interrogation he was subjected to after his arrest at 3 AM at his grandmother’s home in Azariya. The soldiers broke down the door because the grandmother did not hear them knock. The interrogation started at 4:30 AM. The boy’s eyes were uncovered, but he was deprived of food and drink. At the end of the interrogation Muhammad signed a document admitting the allegations against him.
In the first part of his testimony the witness repudiates everything he had said during the police interrogation. The prosecutor reads the questions and answers from the police statement. The witness states, again and again, that he did not say or do what is in the statement. After a lengthy examination Muhammad Basheeti says: “Now I’ll tell the whole truth…” He admits to throwing rocks, but not Molotov cocktails or paint bottles. He did not give names of boys that he does not even know. He claims that the interrogator put pressure on him to admit to things he had not done and testify to things he had not seen. He refused to accede to the policeman’s demands. The latter read him names saying: “so-and-so has already incriminated you, so now you can incriminate him…”
The interrogator also threatened to beat him, to screw him, to incarcerate him and to have soldier beat him up.
The witness insists that his signature was obtained fraudulently: the policeman who made him sign (not the interrogator, whom Muhammad calls “the good policeman) told him his family was waiting for him at the station and once he signs, he could join them. This promise was not kept. From the police station he was driven to Ofer Detention Center.
From listening to the examination of the witness and the judge’s questions, I conclude that the police interrogation was not recorded, meaning that the only documentation of what happened in the interrogation room is what was written (or typed) by the policeman.
The alleged incident involving throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails by the boys was not discussed in court today. Perhaps we’ll hear about it from testimony by representatives of soldiers and policemen who are scheduled to testify on 14.2.11.
In the few minutes remaining until noon, two kids from Abu-Dis were brought into the court.
1. Walid Haled Jumaa Sharef,17 – Case no. 5317/10.
The boy has some facial skin disease. A family member tells us that he also has a disability: his hands are small and feeble (he can’t hold rocks, Molotov cocktails etc).
(see earlier report on this case)
He was arrested two weeks ago at home at 1 AM.
2. Muhammad Raleb Ayad, 15 years old.
Atty. Muhammad Mahmoud represents both defendants. He has summoned several witnesses, who, presumably, will testify during the afternoon session.