Ofer - Sentence, Maltreatment
Translation: Marganit W.
Dates for continuing hearings are set by judges on the spot, and we always make a note of future hearings and try to attend them.
On Monday I came to court intending to observe three particular hearings. I checked the schedule (which is meant for judges, attorneys and visitors) in each room, but could not find the names I was looking for. Clearly, arbitrary changes in the dates (and sometimes in the venue as well, such as change from Ofer to the Russian Compound) make it very difficult for the detainees and for the attorneys who try to provide them with proper representation.
A case in point: the hearing in the case of Tahrir Mansur was supposed to take place on Thursday, 29.8.12 but instead occurred on Wednesday 28.8.13, something that her attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, found out by accident.
In Courtroom 7, Justice (Ret.) Major Kobi Suderi made no secret of his displeasure with what was going on in the court. It is normal during a hearing for attorneys to check files on their desk and converse with detainees and their families. Justice Suderi, however, announced that he would not tolerate such behavior and put the attorneys in their place. Since there were not enough seats, a few of them sat next to me (in the visitors section).
When the hearing began (remand extension of a Palestinian named Al-Rabia unfortunately, I could not obtain any other details) – charged with staying in Israel illegally, it turned out that his attorney, Abdullah Merar, was not present in the court. The judge was furious: he stated that on 21.8.13, Atty. Merar had requested postponement so he could study the case, and it was unthinkable that he would be absent today.
While the judge was dictating his decision to impose a 1500 shekel fine, plus expenses on the attorney, the latter showed up. The judge instructed the typist to note the time of his arrival in the decision and proceeded to reprimand the attorney. The latter was stunned and explained that he had been detained at the entrance to the court, that he conferred with the prosecution, and that the problem was that prosecutors were not authorized to decide on plea bargains [in short, it sounded like “the dog ate my homework” excuse… N.A.]
While this embarrassing exchange between judge and attorney was taking place, the latter tried to examine the prosecution’a file. This provided the judge with further proof that Atty. Merar had not made good use of the extension he had been given at the previous hearing to study the case. He continued to criticize the attorney’s conduct.
Perhaps Justice Suderi believes that keeping a tight ship guarantees the smooth working of the military court system. Still, he ordered a remand extension based on an “evidentiary spark”.
The next case involved two minors who looked to be 14 or 15 years old. The judge ordered a closed session.
Judge: Major Samzar Shagug
Defense: Atty. Fadi Qawasme
Sa’il Muhammad Mahmoud Abada, ID 917060297 - Case 3548/13
Accused of membership and activity (in an unlawful organization).
Following the arraignment, Sa’il Abada was given the floor, and launched on a long description of the beating he had received at the hands of three guards of Nahshon Unit at Eshel Prison where he is kept. He had been so severely beaten, that a doctor at the clinic determined that his foot was fractured.
The next hearing is set for 30.9.13.
I wanted to attend the continuing trial of Ayman Nasser, but it was postponed to the afternoon session, and I had to leave.
On the phone later, Atty. Mahmoud Hassan told me that the trial was concluded with Ayman sentenced to 13 months in prison and a 4000-shekel fine.