Ofer - Stone Throwing, Interrogation of Witness
Translation: Marganit W.
We came to observe the trial of Bassem Tamimi. While waiting we met the
worried parents of a minor facing remand extension. Four other minors (maybe there were more - there was not docket, as should be) paraded before the judge, Sharon Rivlin-Ahai, who is in charge of trying Palestinian children and youths. Perhaps her practice will soon be extended, if the Prime Minister's suggestion that the Youth of the Hills - who threaten peace in the region - are to be tried at the military courts in Judea. However, if this comes to pass, it will surely be the End of Days. In the meantime,only Palestinian children are routinely incriminated by their peers - courtesy of the GSS; only Palestinian children are kidnapped from bed in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers and handed over to seasoned interrogators who also export their expertise to other countries; only
Palestinian children are taken away from their families and detained for months, cut off from friends and from their studies - only because they are Palestinians. This is what happened to the four I saw today, as they were brought in, two by two, handcuffed together:
Muhammad Abu Rumi, 15, from Al-Azariya, Saber Maali, 16 from Daheishe , Muaz Abu Nasser, 15, and Yusuf Sabahne, 14, both from Daheishe, both detained since 23.7.11!
All four are accused of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. All categorically deny the allegations, which is why no plea bargain has been struck, as the court normally tries to impose. This is the reason for the unusually protracted detention - almost half a year! - of Muaz and Yusuf.
Moreover, both are charged with a violation allegedly carried out on Naqba Day (May 2008, when they were 10 and 11). How can an incriminating child
remember what happened three years earlier, unless the interrogators "make sure" he remembers. Why is it so important for the system to prosecute
minors for something that happened when they were young kids?
Muhammad complained of having been beaten by the GSS officer. His defense attorney, Tareq Bargout requested a postponement so he can check the
complaint before the next hearing, on 18.1.12.
A conversation with the attorney and Muhammad's father yielded the following:
Muhammad was arrested with his brother Abdullah, 13. The father, Ramzi, joined them at the interrogation facility at the soldiers' request. In accordance with the law governing juvenile interrogations, he was present at Abdullah's interrogation, and the latter was promptly released. But at the same time, Muhammad was interrogated without his father's presence, which is a violation of the Juvenile Law. He has been detained at Ofer ever since, for a month and a half.
Muaz and Yusuf are detained at Ward 3 at the Meggido Prison [the father claims that the facility houses adults too]. Their most serious complaint concerns "Ramleh Transit" (inside Ramleh Prison). This is part of the procedure of transferring prisoners/detainees from jail to the court. This transition site is notoriously agonizing. This is how the children describe it: filth, cockroaches, terrible food , awful toilets, no blankets! The tw spent 2 days at Ramleh Transit , from Thursday to Sunday, their day in court. The judge apparently knew about the ordeal, , which is why she showed "consideration" and set the next hearing day for Wednesday, which offers the shortest transit time.
I reported all these facts to Physicians for Human Rights and to the Committee Against Torture as well as to B'tzelem.
As noted earlier, we came chiefly to attend the trial of Bassem Tamimi,
resident of Nabi Saleh, who has been detained since Mars 2011.
But before his trial started, there was a memorandum hearing in the case of Muhammad Azem Zadki Kafaya, ID. 921569455, Case 1556/11
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Charge: membership and activity [in an unlawful organization)
Kafaya is accused of supporting the Islamic Jihad. He was under administrative detention as well as detention by the PA.
His brother was in court. He told us that he, too, had been detained for a long period on charges of "membership".
An evidentiary hearing will be held on 5.2.12 at 13:30. Witnesses will be summoned.
Bassem Muhammad Abd Alrahman Tamimi, ID 959225640, Case 2058/11
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Prosecutor: Major Michael Avitan
The only witness for the prosecution in this evidentiary hearing was Inspector Jalal Aweida who served as Investigation Officer (and is today a prosecutor in Acre). Aweida is well remembered for his testimony in the trial within a trial
concerning the legality of the interrogation of the minor Islam Dar Ayyoub from Nabi Saleh, who had incriminated Bassem Tamimi. [We found out lately that Justice Rivlin-Ahai had rejected the defense's argument that Islam's investigation was not conducted according to the law - see Press release and video from Islam's interrogation, published by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee].
Aweida's examination and the cross-examination lasted for many hours, well into the afternoon. But the highlight of this tiresome examination was Aweida's repeated assertion that the minor's interrogation was conducted in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere, that he did not use any intimidation tactics, everything was done in good humor. Even when he was confronted with a video of the interrogation where he is seen making threatening motions toward the boy, he insisted that it was all done jokingly”.
(See protocol of the hearing/examination- in Hebrew).
On the whole, Aweida's conduct was that of a landlord, not of a summoned witness. He answered what he chose to answer, raised his voice and bawled out the defense, until the judge had to reprimand him.
The next hearings are set for 22.1.12 / 29.1.12 / 19.2.12 / 26.2.12.