Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Ronen Atzmon
Prosecutor: Major Orit Pragi-Bechar
Defense: Atty. Ahlam Hadad
Most of the morning session was taken up by the interrogation of two settlers on whose testimony the prosecution based its indictment of the defendant Mustafa Samir Muhammad Kanaan (ID. 411016280 – Case No. 5189/11).
Mustafa Kanaan is a 20-year old student at Al-Quds University.
His mother and cousin were present in court.
He was arrested on 26.10.11 by two soldiers who had been lying in wait for three men at Mikhmas village. The three men carried clubs because they were charged with guarding the property of villagers living abroad. The detainees were taken to a police station where they were interrogated: they were suspected of attacking two settlers from Psagot who, the day before, had driven through a crossing near the village. The three detainees denied the allegations, claiming that on the night of the incident they were in the village.
Six days after the arrest (on 30.11.11) one of the settlers involved in the incident was summoned to the police where he identified Mustafa Kanaan in a line-up. He asserted with certainty that Mustafa was the one who had attacked him and his friend. He was not asked about the other detainees.
The police did not bother to check Mustafa’s alibi and pressed charges against him for an attempted attack, destruction of property, carrying weapons without a license and several other violations.
Today, the two settlers testified in court. The first to testify was the one who had been in the driver seat and who had identified Mustafa in pictures that were screened before him. In reply to the prosecutor’s questions and to the defense’s cross-examination, he described the incident and repeated his absolute certainty in the attacker’s identity. The attacker had hit the windshield forcefully, shattering it, and then proceeded to smash the back window.
The second witness was the driver. His answers were not identical with his friend’s and in certain instances contradicted them (for example: it was dark, he could not see clearly, whereas his friend testified that the light was good and he could see well). This witness was less categorical about the identification of the attacker.
In cross-examination Atty. Ahlam Hadad insisted that the detainee in the court is not the attacker in the incident. The police, apparently, had been lax in its attempt to capture the perpetrator and in its investigation of the incident. While the perpetrator is at large, the prosecution is pinning the blame on the wrong man, depending on a witness who is eager to accuse someone, no matter who.
The defense plans to produce a witness who will corroborate Mustafa’s alibi.
The judge posed some particular questions to the witness, in an attempt to test his reliability. In the end the judge told the prosecution that according to the testimony heard today, there is no ground for conviction on the first count. The court will consider annulling it.
Evidentiary hearing is set for 21.11.11 at 9:30 AM. We will follow up.
Six more cases were processed later that morning – four on charges of rock throwing and other violent attacks – all detainees were minors.
One case ended with a plea bargain: after 2.5 months in detention, the defendant admitted to having thrown rocks and expressed regret. Since the incriminators in the case had difficulty identifying the defendant, the judge ordered jail time to coincide with time served (two and a half months), suspended sentence and 1500 shekel fine or a month in jail.
The other cases were postponed to 28.11.11 at 9:30 AM probably before Justice Sharon Rivlin-Ahai who was on sick leave today.
Among them: Abdallah Hassan Muhammad Shehadah (ID 402284079, Case No. 3496/11), 15 years old, from Qalandiya Refugee Camp. Atty. Samara hopes to reach a plea bargain.
Anas Haled Mansara(ID 402385215, Case No. 4021/11) represented by Atty. Ahlam Hadad.