Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Incriminators
Translation: Marganit W.
I arrived at 14:00 to attend a hearing of a case we have been following up for several months now.
In Courtroom 4 a long evidentiary hearing was taking place, so that our turn came only at 15:30.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Dror Sveransky
Prosecutor: Lieut. Andre Vershachgin
Defense: Attorney Gaby Lasky
Case No.4876/07 - Mustafa Rivhi Mustafa Aassi, from Beit Likya
ID. No. 850303280
[See previous Ofer reports: 24.3.08; 5.5.08; 30.6.08]
Charge: Conspiracy to cause death
The parents and younger brother of the accused are present in court. The mother was allowed to attend by special order of the judge (only 2 members of the family are normally admitted).
[For today's hearing, Prosecution Witness No. 3, Malek Mafaja, is summoned by the prosecution.
While interrogated by the GSS and the police in the Russian Compound, he incriminated the defendant.
During today's interrogation it became apparent, that he himself had been incriminated by another fellow who claimed that together they planned to damage the separation fence.
The interrogation - and subsequent counter-interrogation - is identical to the one conducted during the evidentiary stage of Jassem Ahmad Nimer Aassi - 4878/07 [See Ofer report from 30.6.08] in which Malek Mafaja was also the prosecution witness.
Thus, we will only cite the main points:
The witness admits to being a Fatah member, but denies ever having been a member
of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade or any of its units.
He explains that he incriminated the defendant only because the interrogators put pressure on him,
threatening to use TORTURE if he does not cooperate, and this after being interrogated day and night, having reached a state of total exhaustion. In addition, he was promised that if he incriminated Mustafa, he would be taken out of the Russian Compound and be allowed to meet with an attorney.
His testimony contradicts several parts of the statement he signed at the police. Here, too, the witness explains that he was made to sign a document in HEBREW, which was totally incomprehensible to him.
The defense wants to know why on 30.6.03 he testified in court that he and the one who incriminated him had planned to damage the fence, an act that eventually was not carried out.
The witness admits having said that: he based his statement on what Dafalla, his incriminator, had said in his interrogation.
He states that those were lies and he never planned to damage the fence or to throw firebombs.
Prosecutor: Moves to summon the policemen who took the statements on 20.3 and 24.3.
Defense: Objects to the motion. "The trial has already dragged for unconscionably long time. The defendant has been in jail for 10 months...while the prosecution has failed to prove complicity in the alleged serious charge. No further witness need be summoned, since we have not deposed all the witnesses mentioned in the indictment... If the court grants the motion, I will ask to summon the GSS officers who interrogated the witness, in order to verify his claims regarding the manner of his interrogation.
Judge: Decides to continue evidentiary hearing on 12.11.08. Two additional witnesses will be summoned. Another evidentiary hearing is set for 10.12.08, when the takers of the statement will testify.
The GSS interrogators of the witnesses will be summoned to testify during the defense's presentation.
The defendant's father described to me the trials and tribulations that he (and many others) had undergone today (and on previous occasions) at the Bitunya Checkpoint, the one through which Palestinians from the territories must go in order to reach the Ofer Compound (a distance of 200-300 meters). They waited for more than an hour there, unable to talk to the inspecting soldier, so that he would let them cross. Only when a truck arrived [the checkpoint serves mainly for the transfer of goods "from back to back"], did the soldier let them pass. This treatment, the father claims, is routine.
He also told me that when they visit their detained son at Ofer (once a month), they come from Bitunya, where they leave their car, and when the visit is over, they have to take a bus through Qalandiya (a much longer route) in order to get back to Bitunya (sometimes at night) to retrieve their car. This is a cruel and unnecessary hardship.
We plan to refer these two complaints to the relevant military authorities.