Ofer - Plea Bargain, Shooting
Translation: Marganit W.
We waited for an hour and a quarter to be let in.
The “Inivisible Man” behind the opaque glass window told us repeatedly, “The law says that the families are admitted first”. There were many families there, crowding the fenced waiting area. Needless to say, we have no quarrel with the families: our presence in the court does not deprive nor does it cause delays to the detainees’ families who have enough trouble trying to see their loved ones. Many families still have to waste long hours in the inner area of the court, after they have been through the security checks and before they are allowed to attend the hearings.
It is not the families that delay our entrance but the faulty entry procedures into the courts – these procedures often prevent us from attending the hearings. Over the years the obstacles at the entry to the Military Court in Ofer have become more and more cumbersome.
The Military Court should respect the principle of “public hearings” and enable us to carry out this principle of transparency.
Judge: Sgt.-Maj. Menahem Lieberman
Prosecutor: Capt. Asher Silber
There are 26 cases in the docket. In an hour and a half we heard 7 cases, all at some stage dealing with plea bargain. Five were deferred to a later date. All postponements were at the request of the defense for various reasons: to allow negotiation with the prosecution, to examine a newly revised charge sheet - that may expedite admission and hence agreement – etc.
In two cases there were agreed-upon bargains between the sides; the court accepted the agreement and pronounced a verdict. The procedures are routine and well known to us. Sometimes, we have trouble hearing them because the judge – as was the case today – dictates his decision to the typist at lightening speed.
Even though there is not much new in what we hear during these trials, our observation of these proceedings makes us wonder: As active collaborator in the maintenance of the occupied territories, the military court “cultivates” a pool of Palestinians who supply the various security forces with detainees who are questioned, interrogated and sentenced, thus maintaining an entire ‘security industry’. Watching adult detainees who in the past (when they were minors) had been sentenced to prison or given suspended sentences, then keep returning again and again to detention, one realizes the active role that the punitive system (military judges, prosecutors and to some degree the defense attorneys) plays in fostering the criminality that it purports to eradicate.
Yusuf Ahmad Muhammad Aliyan,ID 850363664 –Case 2138/12
In a revised charge sheet Aliyan admits to conspiring to shoot at IDF forces. The defense, Atty, Akram Samarra had reached an agreement with the prosecution and the court accepted it.
The judge states that the violation consists of words, not action. The defendant and a friend hatched a plan, which did not come to fruition. The judge sentences him to 16 months in jail, plus 10 months suspended sentence for 3 years starting with his release, plus 2000 shekel fine or 2-month additional jail time.
This is the defendant’s third violation in the last few years. The judge describes this as
“escalation in the danger he poses, since his previous convictions”. The judge underlines the severity of the violations, had the plot been carried out: it would have posed real danger to human life.
Mussa Abed Al-Karim Issa Dar Srur,ID 53111374 –Case 2370/12
Mussa is accused of providing services for Hamas.
His attorney, Iliya Theodory asks the court to accept the agreement reached with the prosecution. The judge accepts it and pronounces the sentence: 9-months time served, 12 months suspended sentence for 2 years, and 700 shekel fine or 7 month in jail.
The defendant requests the court to convert one month of incarceration into a fine so he could resume his business activity. The judge turns him down, explaining that he is reluctant to deviate from the agreement because the charge involves Hamas, a murderous organization, and he needs to send a clear message to the public.
Judge: Major Amir Dahan
Prosecutor: Captain Mu’ira Sarhan
Defense: Atty. Akram Samarra
Muhammad Abed AlMajeed Abed Alsamed Hamad,ID 411580699 -Case 4262/12
The detainee is a 24 year old man from Silwad.
Charge: arms possession
The parents were present in court.
The prosecutor reported that an agreement had been reached for a plea bargain. Since this is a repeat offense (possession of the same gun) the penalty will include activation of a suspended sentence from the previous record.
The defendant accepted the charges, adding that he did not endanger state security: the gun was kept as a souvenir.
5 months time served
Activation of the suspended sentence: 5 months cumulative and 3 months overlapping. Altogether 10 months starting with the day f arrest.
18 months suspended sentence for 3 years.
Another trial – with a 3-judge panel – was supposed to take place afterwards. After a long wait it transpired that the Jail Security Service did not transport the defendant from prison to the court and the case was deferred to a later date.