Ofer - Plea Bargain, Sentence
Translation: Marganit W.
I entered Courtroom 3 [Court of Appeals] while an appeal was in progress. I did not have the necessary details and I mention this hearing in case we want to follow up on this case in the future.
The prosecution appealed the acquittal of a Palestinian (about 40 years old) charged with kidnapping and assaulting an Israeli Arab. The man was acquitted because the accuser was abroad and did not report to court despite repeated extensions.
The defendant sat in court with his wife and an interpreter.
The judges suggested rescheduling the trial seven months from today, allowing the prosecution to complete the investigation. The acquittal will be revoked and the defendant will be under house arrest. The deposit will be reduced.
The sides were given two weeks to respond.
In Justice Etty Adar’s court I attended the trial of Bassem Tamimi, ID 959225640 –
Case No. 2058/11from Nabi Salah.
He was arrested at the end of March 2011 and his trial began on June 5 2011.
(the protocol [Hebrew] was forwarded to us by Yonatan Pollak)]
Prosecutor: Atty. Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Prosecution Witness No. 2 (first to testify) is Arnon Yahav, investigator at the Police Intelligence Unit in Judea-Samaria.
The prosecutor asked for confirmation that the interrogation was carried out in a pleasant atmosphere and that the witness had signed the defendant’s statement. The statement was presented to the court. Its content is not detailed in the protocol. Atty. Habib asks the witness why Roy Vanaspi had been interrogated. The witness says he does not remember that investigation. Nor can he explain why he looked at photos taken by Roy Vanaspi [the attorney asks, “So you just looked at the pictures for no reason?” to which the witness replies: “We don’t do things for no reason. I am being paid to do certain things.”]
The defense claims that the investigators started looking at the pictures only after 12.1.11, not before, because it was then that the defendant’s investigation began, and they were looking for testimony that would incriminate him.
The attorney asks if the typist who typed the interrogation was a police plant and that’s why she was present at the interrogation (since the interrogator can enter the data himself), but the witness could not say what the typist’s special functions were.
The defense asks why the interrogator confronted the defendant with Islam’s testimony, who incriminated him, but not with Omar Dar Ayoub who testified that the defendant never incites people to violence. The witness replied that since he did not depose Omar Dar Ayoub, it was not his job to confront the latter’s testimony with the defendant’s [but regarding every other question, the witness said that he relied on information found in the case file – M.M.].
The defense claims that the investigators do not have testimonies by soldiers who were present at the time and saw the defendant commit the crime. The witness says: if such testimonies exist, they should be in the file.
[Judging by the interrogator’s replies it’s strange that he disagrees with the attorney who told him that he described himself (the witness) as “small fry” – M.M.]
Prosecution Witness No. 3 (No. 2 in the witnesses list) is Moshe Madiuni , from the same police intelligence unit.
Again the prosecutor ascertains that the interrogation was conducted according to the rules and the signature on the defendant’s statement was properly obtained.
The witness answers most questions with “I don’t remember if this was included in the file…” The defense focuses on photos, and again the claim is that the interrogators examined the photos of the demonstrations only after Bassem Tamimi’s investigation began, because they were looking for incriminating evidence against him, not because they were tracking rioters.
The attorney points out that seven or eight times the defendant was not present in the village during demonstrations, as he attended a Red Cross course; the witness states that they could not verify the alibi because it is impossible to contact the Red Crescent in the Territories. [Note the “helplessness” of the Security Forces – M.M.]
This witness, too, is asked why the defendant was confronted only with witnesses who incriminated him, and not with those who testified that he did not take part in the demonstrations. The witness replies that it is not his job to be the defendant’s defense. The attorney counters that an investigator’s job is to search for the truth.
The next hearing in Bassem Tamimi’s case is set for Wed. 2.11.11
[It is hard to determine whether the investigators just did not bother to prepare themselves before testifying and did not read the file before going on the witness stand, or they were just feigning ignorance. Either way, they showed disdain and disrespect for their own testimony, a sentiment probably reflecting their self confidence regarding their status in the court – M.M.]
Judge: Major Shlomo Katz
There are 31 cases in the docket covering various charges and at various stages of the legal process: arraignments, reminders, evidentiary, arguments for sentencing.
A third of the defendants have been in custody for at least 10 months (judging by the number of cases bearing the 2010 date).
There was a big commotion in the court: five or six attorneys came and went, relatives were ushered in and out, waiting for their sons’ turn even though some had already been brought in, shackled. Many cases were deferred to a later date, others were summarily processed based on agreements between the sides that were presented to the judge and heard outside the court.
Unit “Lahav 433” arrived: it included civilian prosecutor and defense. They brought 3 defendants. The military court then heard cases of car theft and motor switching perpetrated by Palestinians from the Occupied Territories against Israeli citizens.
In the middle of this mess, the hearing of the evidentiary trial of Mawiya Taisir Yassin Natshe (Case No. 4260/10) took place. He is represented by Atty. Muhammad Jabarin. Mawiya has been in detention for 14 months charged with several violations: membership in an unlawful organization (Hamas), attempts to collect money to buy arms and to carry out suicide attacks, in collusion with another Hamas operative. The prosecution claims that he tried to go to Jordan for training, but his plan was foiled when he was arrested.
The judge “sees justification” for the acceptance of a plea bargain: there are evidentiary difficulties. In other words – which are clear to everybody – there is no proof for the allegations, at least not beyond reasonable doubt.
We are used to the court finding a solution to this common problem of insufficient evidence.
After 14 months in custody, the defendant is ready to accept a revised charge sheet, and he is sentenced even when there is no convincing proof for his culpability.
The sentence: 28 months (i.e. 14 additional months) and a 6000 shekel fine.