Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
Justice Major Amir Dahan’s Court
Prosecutor: Ashhar Erez
Zuheer Omar Muhammad Harub,ID 52890359 -Case 1556/13 -born in 1989.
Defense: Atty. Ilya Teodory
Charge: In Jan. 2013, a month before his arrest, the defendant gave his photo and some money to someone (whose name I was unable to hear) in order to obtain a fake ID. On 1.2.13 he showed up at Az-Zaayem Checkpoint and presented the fake ID in order to enter Israeli illegally. He is accused of impersonation and of violation of the “enclosed area ordnance”. He also has a prior record from 2011 for the same felony (Case 5263/11).
The defendant admits the charges. He tells the court that he did it to obtain work. He is not married but his family depends on his earnings. There is no work in the Westbank and he just wants to earn a living.
The court accepted the plea bargain. The defendant was convicted based on his admission. “Although the court understands his motive, he needs to be prevented from repeating the offense.”
Sentence: two and a half months in prison, plus a month and a half resulting from an earlier suspended sentence, in all 4 months. Plus 3 months suspended sentence for three years from the day of arrest and a 500-shekel fine or two weeks in jail.
Hamza Abed Al-Rahim Muhammad Talgy,ID 411482458 - Case 1986/13
Defense: Atty. Muhammad Shdafan
The case was presented to the court after a delay in which the prosecution went looking for the file.
Charge: On 24.2.2013 he threw rocks at security forces in the village of Sa’ir.
The defendant accepts the charge.
The prosecutor cites a criminal record. Judge: He has a “considerable [criminal] past”.
Defense: The defendant is an adult now, married with a daughter. He wants to settle down and asks the court to accept a plea bargain: 5 months prison time and a 2000-shekel fine, plus suspended sentence to be determined by the court.
Judge: Having examined the agreement and in view of the defendant’s record, I see no reason to accept the plea bargain right away. I deem the agreement too lenient and in need of revision. The sides may submit an argument justifying the agreement by 14.4.13 at 12:30. Sentence will be handed down on 17.4.13 at 15:00.
Observers’ note: This is the first time we encounter a rejection by the court of a plea bargain reached by both sides and a demand that they present the court with a decision that would justify it.
Muhammad Shafiq Abed Al-Rahman Hamail,ID 410742316–Case 4346/12
Defense: Atty. Ibrahim Al-Araj
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
The defense requests a postponement to reach an agreement with the prosecution. In a previous hearing it was concluded that if the sides could not reach a settlement, additional evidence would be adduced.
By a procedural arrangement, testimony by Officer Zuhir Sharef Malki (Prosecution Witness No. 3) will be presented: he identified the defendant among 8 photos as the perpetrator in this case.
The judge explains to the defendant that such a submission, where the witness is absent, will be accepted by the court as if the witness were testifying before the judge. There is no dispute regarding the identification. After consulting with the attorney, the defendant agrees.
The case was referred to ‘internal memorandum’ on 17.4.13 when the sides will report if they have reached an agreement.
In late morning I sat briefly in two courtrooms and observed 5 hearings. All had to do with rock throwing and reflected various reactions by the court.
Justice Lieut.-Col. Sharon Rivlin-Ahai convicted a boy (born in 1995) based on his own admission of participation in rock throwing at a moving vehicle. The judge accepted a plea bargain and sentenced the defendant to 5 months in prison, 6 months suspended sentence for 4 years and a 1000-shekel fine or two months incarceration.
As is her wont, this judge lectured the convicted boy, admonishing him to mend his evil ways.
Two more boys were waiting to be sentenced for throwing rocks: a 15-year old boy, released on bail, waited with his mother for his hearing and a 14 year old brought in shackled, who was sitting in the dock. His family had not yet arrived.
In Justice Lieut.-Col. Etty Adar’s court, two defendants were tried for throwing rocks.
Atty. Ismail Tawil represented one of them.
The judge accepted a plea bargain and stated: “The defendant – 18 years old minus 5 days – hurled rocks at a security forces vehicle, 400 meters from the entrance to Ofra [settlement].
At this point the judge sees fit to comment on the ambiguous phrasing of the indictment. The prosecutor peers at her documents, not sure how to interpret the charge: do 400 meters refer to the distance to the vehicle or is it the location of the vehicle? Smiling, the judge comments that there is a difference between the two versions, but “I don’t want to interfere” and she proceeds to hand down her sentence: 4 months in prison, 5 months suspended sentence for 4 years and a 1500 shekel fine, or three months incarceration.
It is strange that the judge refrains from ‘interfering with the details of the charge’, but does not refrain from handing down a sentence based on such dubious details.