Ofer - Stone Throwing, Sentence
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
There are 34 items on Major Samzar Shagug’s “List of Cases for the Judge”.
It is clear that the hearings will be done at a “conveyor belt” pace.
Listening to the charges and to the family members of detainees, I get a picture of Palestinians’ lives under occupation. On Sunday I spent many hours in court, and I would like to report on all the people who are accused of “leaving the area without permit” (caught staying illegally in Israel), people whose only crime is trying to provide for their families, those accused of throwing rocks because they want to protest against the occupation and on many others, but I cannot cover all of them, so I will report only a few of the hearings.
My first conversation was with parents waiting in the yard. Their sons are students at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. A week earlier the students went to a gym in Azariya. On their way back they were stopped by the army and they have been detained every since. An uncle of one of the students insisted that the court must send them all home. How naïve. The parents arrived early in the morning (since you never know when the hearing will start). When I left, at 17:45 they were still waiting.
Later that night I called one of the fathers: they had to pay 2500 shekels bail as warranty that the suspects would report to court on Thursday. One of the parents went to look for an open post office at that late hour.
As usual, many hearings ended with plea bargains with the familiar formulas: admission by the accused that would save the court time; difficulty proving the charge etc. The penalties were also typical: two month jail time plus several months suspended sentences for several years, and as always a fine – 1000, 2000 shekels, sometimes more.
Judge: Samzar Shagug
Prosecution: Lieut. Dvir Weisel
Defense: Atty. Makram Samarra
Muhammad Naim Mahmud Hamed, ID 85290734 - Case 3755/13
Muhammad Hamed is accused of throwing rocks at the entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp five months ago.
He denies the allegations and refuses to confess. His defense requests some time, promising the judge that an admission will be forthcoming. The judge explains to Muhammad that, indeed, it is his decision to accept or reject the charges, but he also reminds him that he has a very learned attorney: the judge listens to all sides and decides regarding the evidence etc. etc. Well, after this lecture, Muhammad admits his guilt.
This situation, where the judge ‘explains’ to the accused how professional his defense is and in fact pressures him to confess (to save the court’s time) is, to say the least, bizarre.
Once Muhammad confessed, previous violations were cited, as well as a suspended sentence which is still in effect.
Sentence: 4.5 months in jail for the present case, plus 5 months for the suspended sentence (2.5 months overlapping, and 2.5 consecutive). In all, he will be in jail for 7 months from the day of his arrest. In addition the judge imposed a suspended sentence of 6 months for 5 years for the same or similar violation, plus a 1500 shekel fine.
Hamza Deeb Abu Zahara, ID 415257468 - Case 3228/13
Atty. Munther Abu Ahmad represents Abu Zahara. This is the final hearing in the case.
On 28.5.13 Abu Zahara was caught staying illegally in Israel. This is his third time and he has already served time in jail for this violation.
The defense explains that his client is not a recidivist: he is just doing his best to provide for his family of 8. There is a suspended sentence from prior trials, and he has already been in detention for 4 months. Thus the sentence is 2 months in jail plus activation of the suspended sentence: 2 months jail time and 2 months overlapping with the present penalty, in other words, the four months he has already been detained. In addition there is a suspended sentence of 2 months for four years plus a 1000 shekel fine.
Thank God for small mercies:
I came to Ofer today expressly to observe the hearing of Tahrir Mansour and her brother Sadaam Mansour. Shosh Kahn from “Women for Political Prisoners” was also present.
Defense: Atty. Mahmoud Hassan
(See earlier report of Tahrir’s case)
Tahrir Sati Yusuf Mansour, ID 936077825 - Case 3343/13
Atty. Hassan reports that he has spoken to the prosecutor, but no agreement has been reached. The two sides will meet again on 9.10.13 hoping to resolve the case. The defense requests a postponement. If no agreement is reached, the defense will present its case and asks for a date for the evidentiary hearing.
A memorandum hearing is set for 31.10.13
The same postponement was arranged for Sadaam Mansour, who is represented by Atty. Firas Sabah.
Why did I mention “small mercies?” – Atty. Hassan was able to arrange a hearing for both siblings on the same day, thus Tahrir will be able to sit with her brother (whom she has not seen since her arrest), and their father and sister – who came very early in the morning – will be able to talk to the defendants for TEN minutes.