Ofer - Stone Throwing, Minors
Translation: Marganit W.
[Note: entry to the courtroom took longer than usual. Chief of Security, Eli Ben Uzi, kept us waiting for an hour. The reason given was that he had to let in the families waiting in the shed first. This sounded plausible
but unconvincing in view of the slow pace and the many stops in the process of letting the families in. Had they let us in at 9:30, there would have been no delay, but the security chief wouldn't have a chance to flaunt his authority. We were finally admitted at 10:20]
This time we were required to deposit our ID cards and keys. The reason given: a key had been found with one of the prisoners.. It's amazing that this is enough to make car and house keys a "security risk," but we
obliged, not willing to argue over trifles.
Courtroom 2 - Juvenile court
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
Prosecutor: Mazy Mekusan
8 attorneys represented the detainees during this session
There was only one row of benches for the audience, which comprised of family members, 2 observers of "Trials Without Borders" and us.
There were 36 cases in today's docket. 22 youngsters were admitted until noon. At least half of the cases were postponed at the requests of the attorneys. 4 cases of minors from Jilazoun and other cases represented by Atty. Qawassme were postponed to 7.6.10. One case of a minor was set for 14.6.10, and another for 31.5.10 (all trials take place on Monday; we have all the names of the minors and the dates).
The detainees are led in in groups of 2-5. Only a few look frightened and "lost" in the prison uniform, as used to be the case in the past. Today most of the juveniles look different: a group of self-confident young men. This
is reinforced by their stylish haircuts and meticulous garb, albeit Prison Authority issue. There are hugs and kisses when one group leaves and another takes its place in the dock. Throughout the session we realize
that indeed these are not frightened minors; that most have been in custody once or twice before. They demonstrate familiarity with the legal proceedings and argue with the attorneys about the plea bargains.
Atty. Qawassme explains: "They have become practiced jurists themselves, and they believe they can get a better deal." One boy requests a later date in court, together with his accomplices. Another defendant objects to Qawassme representing him. The court defers the trial to allow the family to find another attorney.
Two boys who had been released on bail come from outside. One, a kid from Bil'in, refuses to be represented by an attorney saying, "They're all thieves." He says he was 12.5 when he was apprehended in 2007.
He was released on 5000 shekel bail and was now waiting to meet with representatives of the prosecution in the afternoon.
The story of the other detainee on bail looks like a typical case of 'trumped-up detention,' but, of course, this is not how it is represented in court. There are no 'trumped-up arrests' here: once charged, a case is opened, and especially if there is a confession (even with flimsy evidence) the detainee will be found guilty as charged and punished.
Quite often the court will dispense with prison time (beyond the period of detention for the purpose of interrogation) and will impose a fine AS WELL AS PROBATION.
Suhib Hadr Abd Alaziz Barkan - Case No. 1631/10, ID 854693926, 15 years old, from Hebron,
in custody for 14 days on charges of throwing rocks at a military vehicle. He was released on bail and today, two and a half months since the arrest, he is in court with his father.
Atty. Ayad Misk represents him in a plea bargain: in exchange for an admission Suhib will get 14 days detention, already served, 5000 shekels fine deducted from the bail already posted, and 4 month probation for 3 years, if caught again throwing objects.
It is obvious the court did not consider him a security risk, thus releasing him on bail. But once arrested by the IDF and handed to the GSS and prosecuted, the court will not miss an opportunity to punish him.
"Probation" is not always limited to the violations the defendant is accused of.
Ali Yusef Ahmad Badr - Case No. 6243/09, ID 854409943, a high school student, 18 years old,
from Abu-Dis, in custody for 5 months.
Between 2006-9, when he was 14-17, by his own admission, he used to throw rocks at security forces and also served as scout when a gang of boys threw fire grenades.
His sentence: 22 months starting with the day of arrest and 4000 shekel fine, plus a 12 month probation for 4 years. The condition is: if he repeats the offense or in any way endangers the security forces.
This general formula will enable the court to enforce the probation clause for a broad variety of pretexts.
Atty. Ahmed Saffiya prepared a detailed appeal of this broad future punishment.
The appeal will take place at the Court of Appeals on 8.6.10.