Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
We had no prior knowledge of any special hearings, and when we arrived we were unable to get info about the cases. When we asked the attorneys, they said that if we wish to see “Injustice in action” any hearing will do. We ended up attending routine remand extensions and no ‘spectacular’ cases.
Only in one court were we able to obtain the docket from an interpreter. In all other courts there was only one list and the interpreter claimed he needed it.
What was particularly glaring was the lack of transparency of the procedures. When there is no public, justice cannot be carried out.
Even when we sit in the audience (or other guests from abroad who speak no Hebrew), there is unbearable hubbub that prevents us from hearing what’s said between prosecutor, defense and judge. The interpreter translates simultaneously what the judge says (or perhaps he knows in advance what the judge is going to say). It is hard to follow or understand what transpires in the court.
Open hearing means that the audience can enter freely, or at least the defendants’ families who should be able to assess the judge and counsel the defendant about plea bargains. Why are Palestinian families deprived of this right? The court treats Palestinians with contempt, and they in return have contempt for the court. Sure, they are afraid, but they have no respect for the procedure, not only because it is an agent of the occupation.
It is ironic to see the signs outside describing the courts as “halls of justice” like our Supreme court. This is part of the “word laundering” of the occupation.
Muhammad Amala, ID 851527283 - Case 1089/15
Judge: Major Haim Balilti
Prosecutor: Lieut. Pasek Rostislav
Defense: Avi Bar-Am
Amala is detained until the end of the legal proceedings. He is charged with possession of 24 flare kits. He claims he bought them for his daughter’s birthday. The prosecution could not refute his claim, so the court accepted the defense’s arguments. The man is 54 years old with no prior record.
The prosecutor argued for penalty, but not a very strict one. In the end the man was sentenced to a month and a day in jail, suspended sentence and 6000-shekel fine, which is an enormous burden. Possession of flares (used in demonstrations and disturbances) proved indeed very costly. What next? Preventing the use of onion to neutralize the effect of tear gas? I don’t remember anyone ever being convicted of possession of flares inside Israel.
Muhammad Bariguit, ID 854108586 - Case 7349/14
Judge: Major Sigal Turjeman
Prosecution: Captain Elhanan Dreyfus
Defense: Atty. Aouda Zbeidi
The accused, a young man, not a minor, has been detained for 5 months now. He is accused of throwing rocks at soldiers. The defense tries to reach an agreement with the prosecution. There is a suspended sentence that needs to be activated, thus there is difficulty reaching an agreement about the length of the sentence.
In most cases we attended today a postponement was requested in order to reach an agreement between the sides. The need for plea bargain is clear; there is no chance of obtaining an acquittal. A plea bargain always yields a lesser penalty than a conviction, which is in fact punishment for having “wasted the court’s precious time”.