Ofer - Stone Throwing, Sentence
Translation: Marganit W.
Three languages are used in the military court: Hebrew, Arabic and Orwellian.
Example of Orwellian: a defendant who does not accept the charges is considered “someone who does not accept responsibility for his acts and does not express remorse.”
In this case the defendant is Muaed Alharibat, whose case we reportedon 9.7.13.
Military Juvenile Court in Judea
Vice-president of the court: Lieutenant-Colonel Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
Prosecutor: Lieut. Dvir Wiesel
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Defendant: Muaed Jamil Salem Alharibat, ID 859284994 - Case 3402/13
The defendant is a minor. This is an evidentiary hearing for sentencing.
Muaed is accused of throwing rocks, but the prosecutor apparently charges him with another violation, “making use of the media: since he is a cameraman for B’tselem… he tried to operate under the guise of the media…” It was heartening to hear that the prosecution, too, thinks that “the media is very important and needs to be given scope; the state and the authorities are giving the media free reign…” (The quotes are from the protocol).
The defense reminded the court that the charge against Muaed is ‘throwing rocks’; however, the prosecutor tried to add severity to the charge because the defendant strives to prove his innocence, and so he rejected a plea bargain. The oft-used phrase “does not assume responsibility and does not express remorse” is heard again. The defense stressed that a single incriminator testified: “I saw him 40 meters away with a group of youngsters in front of him; his hand was on the sling.”
In a sentencing hearing on 9.7.13 it was mentioned that the soldiers were on the second floor of an abandoned building. The defense claimed that it was an entrapment staged by the soldiers. The attorney mentioned the defendant’s young age and noted that there is no rehabilitation program for minors in prison. The defendant comes from a family of 12 that is in dire economic straights, so much so that the father could not afford to come to the hearings.
As for the young age of the defendant, the prosecutor dismissed it, “He is on the verge of maturity, almost 18, so the age factor should not have much bearing on the case.”
Here again the Orwellian newspeak is at work: there are minors and then there are minors on the verge of maturity. Bear in mind, the hearing took place at a juvenile court.
In his summation the defense reminded the court that lately there has been a debate in the public about the difference in interrogation and punishment between Israel and the Occupied Territories. Since the court stated that the police should employ the same rules as those employed in Israel when interrogating minors, the sentencing, too, should correspond to the norms prevailing in Israel.
Sentencing hearing is set for 23.7.13
Judge: Major Shahar Greenberg
Prosecution: Lieut. Agranash Agniahu
Defendant: Z.A.M, ID854841111 - Case 1980/12
He is 16.5 years old, fifth in a family of 6 children.
[See earlier report on this case]
On 21.12.12, Z. participated in a demonstration in support of H.A. a prisoner on hunger strike. Two weeks later, on the night of 7.3.12, he was arrested and taken from his home to the police station. A few hours after his arrest, police investigators interrogated him about rock throwing during the demonstration and extracted a confession that he had taken part in the rally and had thrown 3 rocks at a passing vehicle.
Six other participants in the incident, also arrested and interrogated, confessed and incriminated Z. They all accepted the charges and received punishments as part of plea bargains. The arrest and the interrogation of those minors were in blatant violation of their rights according to the Juvenile Law (which the Military Court accepted by specific edict). See further discussion below.
Z., who accepted the charge during his police interrogation, later rejected the indictment. To prove his guilt the court held a lengthy evidentiary trial and he was kept in prison for ten months. Later he was released on bail, at first to house arrest, then he was allowed to go to school. Eventually, he was allowed to leave the house, but not the village.
The hearings, which lasted about a year and a half, were conducted behind closed doors, as is mandated in cases where minors are concerned.
In a decision given two days ago (15.7.13) behind closed doors, the judge found Z. guilty, stating, “His guilt was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, based on his police statement and testimony by incriminating witnesses, that corroborated his admission.”
With Atty. Nery Ramati’s consent, the judge allowed us to be present when the sentence was pronounced. The judge read a lengthy document to the defendant (who is released on bail) and to his attorney. The 9-page sentence describes a case that lasted 17 months, summing up the arguments of both sides and enumerating - based on precedents in both Israel and the Territories – the legal ground for the penalties: 10 months in prison (already served), 12-month suspended sentence for 3 years; 1000-shekel fine, plus 1000 shekel compensation to each of the three complainants injured in the car [the rock was thrown at].
In Clause 33 of the sentence the judge voices harsh criticism on the investigation agents, stating, “the interrogation of the defendant and the other minors involved is riddled with flaws, sloppiness and inconsistencies…” adding that in the arguments presented in the plea bargains (in the other co-defendants’ cases) it is stated that the errors and omissions found in the deposition of the suspected minors were a contributing factor in the decision.
This criticism of investigations carried out in police stations (which was also published in the media (see attached article below by Chaim Levinson in Haaretz) has often been expressed by judges of the military courts. The harshest criticism involves interrogated minors, but judges and defense attorneys also disapprove of the way adult detainees are interrogated.
The sentence handed down today is replete with quotations and citations and is impressively erudite. But the sharp criticism of the shortcomings of police investigation and the exposure of the mistakes and failings of the process of deposing witnesses are merely declaratory. At the end of the lengthy evidentiary trial, it is the same testimonies, obtained without adherence to rules and regulations that provide “proof beyond the shadow of a doubt” of the defendant’s guilt.
Courtroom 3 – Appeals
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Ronen Atzmon
Defendant: Ahmad Nasser Karim from the village of Budrus, accused of throwing rocks.
The prosecution claimed that his acts constitute endangerment and that they warrant detention. Ahmad has prior convictions and during the first Intifada, he spent time in jail. There were substantial evidentiary flaws in the Prosecution’s arguments.
The defense, Nery Ramati, moved to release Ahmad on bail until the prosecution completes its case.
The judge told the prosecutor: Investigate all incidents involving rock throwing in Budrus, and complete all the missing details today.
The prosecutor was reluctant to reopen the investigation, but the judge continued in the same vein (the typist stopped recording), “We know that the police does not do anything without pressure: they don’t shorten the detentions, they don’t look for witnesses, they don’t record the investigation on video…”