Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Incitement
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Defendant: Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh – Case No. 2058/11
Representing the Army Spokesman’s office was Netanyahu Junior, attended by two guards (one in civilian garb)
[See earlier report of Bassem Tamimi’s trial]
Bassem Tamimi’s trial goes on and on at Ofer Military Court. He is accused of organizing demonstrations, instructing villagers how to conduct non-violent protests, blocking the army’s route with garbage cans and other minor violations. These are considered security threats to one of the most aggressive and better-equipped countries in the world.
In this session two police investigators testified: they had interrogated Tamimi following his arrest. They seem to be experienced and savvy, covered with a thick layer of Teflon. They do not remember anything – absolutely nothing. At best they testify “to the best of my recollection…”
The Military Prosecutor went first. He asked: How good is your Arabic. Tell us about the atmosphere during the interrogation. Do you remember anything special from that interrogation?
The witness (police interrogator) replied to all questions with, “I don’t remember any such thing”, whereupon the prosecutor was satisfied and rested his case.
In cross-examination the defense sought to prove that the army had marked Tamimi as an organizer of protests and thus had prepared the case against him even before his arrest.
Bassem Tamimi was interrogated on 24.3.11 but the file shows that evidence against him had been sought three month earlier, on 12.1.11.
This is what the testimony sounded like (with necessary abridgement):
- -Who headed this interrogation?
- -I don’t remember, at that period…
- -Explain how this investigation started.
- -You should address this question to my commander.
- -I see that you interrogated Roy Vanespi. – Do you remember this?
- -I don’t recognize this name.
(The defense tries to jog the forgetful witness’s memory) He is an army photographer.
- -I am not familiar with the name.
- -Do you remember when the order was given to start the investigation in this case?
Thus, most of the 116 questions were answered by “I don’t remember, Maybe, Don’t recall, I no longer remember, I don’t know, I suppose, To the best of my knowledge, I have no recollection of such an event, I don’t think so, etc.”
The second interrogator was also interesting. The prosecutor asked him a routine question: Tell the court how proficient you are in Arabic. Answer: “I have been a policeman for 25 years, and I conduct investigations in Arabic…” He mentioned his formal education. This witness, too, did not remember anything unusual about the interrogation.
Let me cite again the answers provided by this witness: “Don’t remember, I suppose, If I am not mistaken, Can’t recall, Maybe, I don’t know, I think so, I don’t think so, Don’t remember, Not my responsibility, If memory serves….”
These investigators are very cautious, they are well trained, and they do not remember.
Another point: the defendant claims that during some of the demonstrations he is accused of having organized he was absent from the village, having attended a Red Cross training course. The defense asked the testifying interrogator: Did you ask (Tamimi) when the course started?
Answer: We asked him. The defendant said he did not remember. To the best of my knowledge, if there is a record or if attendance was taken, then we could not check his alibi…. He did not even provide us with a phone number.”
He did not provide a phone number! The IDF could not obtain the phone number?!
Question: As an investigator, shouldn’t you check that out?
Answer: Considering that the course took place in the [Occupied] Territories, I cannot check it out. [He cannot check if there was a Red Cross training course on that date!] I think I did the maximum possible.
Q: The Red Cross is not accessible?
A: The Red Cross in the Territories, I don’t know. There was no specific person I could call.
Really? Someone specific?? One wonders, how they obtained the phone number of the Atomic installations in Iran or of the Human Rights Organizations in Larnaca. But to obtain the number of the Red Cross Offices in the Territories??
The other witnesses did not show up. Islam Tamimi did not come; the court administration was unable to establish contact with him. For those who remember how the child Islam first came to this court, this epitomizes the farce that goes under the name of military justice.
The other two witnesses were also, somehow, unavailable.
They will be summoned to the next hearing (16.11.11).