Ofer - Stone Throwing, Interrogation of Witness
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
Judge: Major Haim Balilti
Prosecutor: Lieut. Raphael Shafransky
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Zein Hashem Halil Abu Maria, ID 854841111 - Case 1789/14
Muhammad Ahmed Halil Abu Hashem, ID 859493918 - Case 1767/15
(See earlier reports on these two defendants)
The hearing centered on the examination of Prosecution witness No. 2 Sgt. Major Auni
The process is as follows: the detainee is first brought to the Shabak (GSS) for interrogation. At the end of the session a memorandum is written. The detainee is then transferred to a police interrogator.
Atty. Ramati read something that an investigator named “Fuad” wrote in another document. The prosecutor tried to object, but the judge allowed it.
Here is the text: “It was explained to the detainee that the chronological order of the process is as follows: the detainee tells the Shabak interrogator about his security violation, and it is written down. Then he is officially interrogated by a police investigator who writes the statement in the detainee’s mother tongue. The detainee reads the statement and signs it.”
Thus, it is clear that the police statement, which later becomes part of the indictment, is just a rubber stamp for the Shabak’s interrogation.
Atty. Ramati confronted the witness with information in the police statement, insisting that subsequent to the interrogation, the witness did not order any other investigation: he ordered a lineup without informing the detainee’s attorney. The Shabak was not satisfied with the fact that during the police interrogation, the witness did not inform on 8 others, and he was sent to the police investigator three times.
Whereupon Witness Auni said he could not remember. True, he conducts several interrogations every day and simply does not remember.
Next, Atty. Ramati asked the police investigator about the condition of the detention cells. At first, the investigator admitted having visited the cells several times, but later he recanted, stating he does not know those cells. The attorney described the cells: is it true they are tiny, windowless, with a light bulb on 24 hours a day, a matrass on the floor and a toilet inside the cell?
The witness hedged, then said he once saw a cell through a window in the door, but he has no idea what goes on inside. “It’s not my area,” he said.
The defense: “You have been an investigator for many years; have you ever asked a suspect during a interrogation if he has anything to add, and he asked to get out of the cell?”
Police investigator: “I remember suspects saying they wanted the interrogation to be over so they could be transferred to Ofer [a less harsh detention center].”
The Defense: ”Keeping detainees in such cells is a form of interrogation.”
To which the witness agreed.
Decision: the prosecution will hand its summation in writing, and a date will be determined to hear the summations of both sides without the defendant’s presence.
Shosh Kahn (Women for Political Female Prisoners) and I came to observe the hearing of Hanan Shalabi who was arrested during the big demonstration in Bil’in to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the protest.
It was a motion for re-examination.
The hearing was very short and was then postponed for the next day, Thursday. We later found out that the request for re-examination was accepted and the court ordered her release. The prosecution may appeal the decision. On Sunday we’ll find out if Hanan will be released until the trial on 17.5.15.
After the recess we attended several hearings where the charges were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.
As is often the case, the attorney informs the prisoner and the family about an offer of plea bargain. This is done in a loud voice since the prisoner sits in the dock and the family sits at the back of the hall.
The judge in the meantime was engaged in another hearing.
The prisoner and his family were taken aback by the plea bargain offer and started shouting. The usual haggling ensued as the attorney tried to persuade his client to agree.
Surprisingly, the judge intervened, saying that although the court is not obligated to accept the bargain, it is customary to do so, in the interest of saving time. If the accused decides to go to trial, he stands the risk of getting a stiffer punishment. This was a very clear recommendation by the judge to accept the plea bargain and also to retain that particular attorney (the prisoner had shouted that he wanted another counsel).