Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
Hagit Shlonsky’s Report
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Ronen Atzmon (sitting in for Sharon Rivlin-Ahai)
Prosecutor: Tali Keret (and another prosecutor in civilian clothes)
4 minors were in the dock, waiting for the judge for about an hour. The hearing started late, at 11 AM.
There were 23 cases in the docket, most charges were of throwing rocks and other objects.
By noon 8 cases were heard.
This was supposed to be the concluding hearing in the case of Wassim Said Saadi Alkarki – Case No. 3964/10. He is a 16-year old boy from Hebron. His Attorney Ilya Theodory, tells the judge that the agreement reached with the prosecution is problematic. Wassim had been convicted and served time on three occasions in 2010. His present detention has been going on for six months already as resulting from a suspended sentence. He comes from an afflicted family and needs treatment, not further incarceration. The PA does not have suitable services and institutions for Wassim’s special needs. Without proper treatment he will repeat the offences. Wassim’s father throws himself on the mercy of the court, pleading for his son’s release on conditions specified in the plea bargain, which include a 3500-shekel fine. The judge accedes to the defense and releases the boy on 1000-shekel bail on condition that he is referred to a welfare officer at Beit-El for observation. Only after options for treatments are considered will he be sentenced.
Prosecutor Tali Keret objects to the deferment of sentencing. The judge allows her two hours for consultation. 20 minutes later a solution is found that allows the boy to be released after the parents have deposited 3500 shekels.
If he is not released by 14.4.11, another hearing will take place on that day.
Amir Samir Waja Bastami – Case No. 4701/10, from Abu-Dis.
He was 16 when the violations occurred in May and July of 2010.
He is charged with throwing a paint bottle and a Molotov cocktail with other boys. Today he accepts the charges. Atty. Akram Smara conducted the evidentiary trial. Interrogators from Maale-Adumin police testified. “Their testimony lacked credibility and veracity… a cassette recording of the interrogation went missing…” These revelations, however, did not bother the court; it merely noted that there were ‘evidentiary difficulties’ and therefore accepted the agreement between the sides: 14 months jail time; 10 months suspended sentence for 4 years and 2000-shekel fine.
The hearing in the case of Mahmud Alaa Mahmud Samara – Case No. 1406/11 - a 15-year old accused of throwing objects, was postponed to 28.3.11. Atty. Akram Samara represents him.
Ofra Ben-Artzi’s report:
Military Court of Appeals
Judge: Colonel Aharon Mishnayot
Defense: Atty. Tarek Bargout
Respondent: Muhammad Daoud – Case No. 1227/11
The prosecution appealed a sentence, which took into account the personal circumstances of the accused.
Even though Muhammad had already been convicted in the past for throwing rocks, the court took into consideration his mental state and sentenced him to only 16 months in jail. The prosecutor insisted on “a significantly harsher punishment”.
The case involves throwing a Molotov cocktail. The prosecutor contrasted the plea bargain with an evidentiary hearing, declaring that this is a “futile trial”. In other words, according to him, a Palestinian who chooses to go through a trial is cheating the court and must therefore pay for it with a stiff punishment, so as to deter others. From the prosecutor’s perspective, those who opt for plea bargain should not feel like ‘suckers’ compared to those who go through a trial, thereby wasting the court’s time.
When the prosecutor said: …”Unlike others, the respondent chose to conduct an evidentiary trial…” the judge responded: “It was his right to do so!”
The judge handed down his decision the next day: he rejected the prosecution’s appeal.
An important comment made by the defense:Find out if the psychiatrist at Ofer Prisonspeaks Arabic. Probably not!
Appellant: Iman Said Hamida, ID 904614062,detained since 19.10.09
Atty. Bargout allowed me to look into an interesting decision given on 13.2.11
The appellant requested that the court summon police informers, who shared a detention cell with him at Shikma Detention Center in Ashkelon. He described a series of physical abuses, including a strangling attempt, injuries to the legs, intimidation and humiliation.
In an uncommon, perhaps precedent-setting decision, the judge ordered the police informers to testify. Colonel Mishnayot sided with the appellant and nullified the lower court’s decision which relied, among others, on Section 87a of the Security Regulations which states: “…When dealing with the activity of learning organizations, ambiguity is an essential part of the modus operandi…”
The judge commented: “As our Sages used to say: ‘There is no blessing save in what is hidden from the eye.’”
It is important to note that there was no objection to summoning the GSS interrogators to testify, and indeed they testified. But the judge noted: “There is a clear difference between interrogators and informers… the very existence of GSS interrogators is known to one and all and is not done undercover… whereas the activity of informers… is part of methods that are done undercover and are protected.”
Hava Halevi’s report:
On 3.1.11 I reported on the trial of two defendants, Salah and Daoud Abu Romi, members of the same family, who worked at a gas station in Maale Adumim. Since they were often short of money, they had an agreement with the bookkeeper: she gave them cash advances on their salaries, they signed for the “loan” and later returned the money, mostly by receiving a smaller payment.
Suddenly one day, according to the indictment, the owner discovered that 160,000 shekels were missing from the till. The two men were arrested.
Their trial continues today. The indictment has been amended. Only 8,000 shekels were missing. The owner called one of the men, and he admitted taking the money, and promptly returned it. The bookkeeper testified, but she did not say that she had a tacit agreement with the workers. She had not told the owner about the agreement, so the charge was “stealing from the boss.”
How did the sum shrink from 160,000 to 8000? Who came up with that astronomical sum in the first place? Atty. Daoud Azi told me: They write whatever they want.
Penalty: 5000 shekels fine plus 2000 compensation to the owner for the mental distress he suffered, plus 5-month suspended sentence.