Ofer - Stone Throwing, Students
Translation: Marganit W.
Courtroom 4, Justice Haim Balilty presiding
A few words about the human landscape at the military court.
The meting of justice or “seeking the truth” or “maintaining the rule of law” in the military courts resembles an open market place. There are many functionaries – security guards letting detainees in and out, making sure family members sit only in the back rows (for security reasons, of course), attorneys coming in and out to check when their client’s hearing is due, officers of the military prosecution, clerks, interpreters and typists.
They all talk among themselves, with the judge, prosecutor and attorneys. The hubbub and the commotion are like in a souk. The judge asks the defendants – who stand up when their names are called – if they are familiar with the indictment and if they accept it. It is hard to follow what is going on. The translation, as we often point out, is only partial. Family members of the detainees come and go, trying to communicate with their loved one, pass on family gossip, smile and encourage. The attorneys explain the advantage of a plea bargain and the clients have to make up their minds.
I write all this to explain how hard it is – sometimes impossible – to absorb what goes on and understand it: the charges, the dates of arrest, the penalty, the evidence, the verdict and sentence.
Walid Ahmad Ali Abu Turki – ID 854455185
Defense: Ashraf Abu Sneine
Charge: membership and activity in a proscribed organization
Walid is a law student at Hebron University.
He was arrested on 2.6.15 because he was active in a student organization. When asked if he knows the charges, he says yes.
The trial was postponed to 2.9.15.
This was the routine in all the hearings today.
Abd Al-Rahman Ashak Abd Al Rahim – ID 860190404
Defense: Fadi Qawasme
Abd Al Rahman studies engineering at Beir Zeit University.
He is accused of membership and activity in a proscribe organization: Bir Zeit Universityy student organization.
His mother told us he has been in detention for 3 months.
Yasser Muhammad Raduan Kokas – ID 931955769
Defence: Fadi Qawasme
Yasser resides in Abu Dis.
He is accused of aiding and abetting a proscribed organization.
At this stage we noticed that out of 6 hearings, 4 had to do with membership and activity in a student organization.
Yaakoub Jamal Muhammad Al Halabiya – ID 851179553
Defense: Fadi Qawasme
Yaakoub Halabiya is accused of throwing Molotov cocktails on 4 occasions, presumably at Israeli targets, and of throwing rocks on four other occasions.
His attorney offered him a plea bargain entailing 32 months in jail, but he turned it down.
Zouheeb Issa Haled Habel – ID 854550373
Defense: Ahmad Safiya
Zouheeb is 23 years old, released in the “Shalit Exchange” after serving 3 years. Accused of manufacturing and throwing a fire bomb.
His mother told us that his elder brother had been killed (she used the Arabic term for a martyr dying for a nationalistic or religious cause), and his father died a year ago.
The attorney is negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution.
Saed Muhamad Haled Abu Bahaa – ID 900729617
Saed is 36 years old, married and a father of four. He teaches computers.
He is accused of membership and activity in a proscribed organization.
The activity – according to the indictment – consists of taking part in a rally and a demonstration organized by Hamas during 2014. He also delivered a speech there and tried to arrange press coverage.
There are difficulties locating witnesses for the prosecution.
This is an interesting case. The prosecution witnesses were presumably people who were present at the rally. They are naturally reluctant to come forward for fear of being charged, or else they are collaborators who also do not want to be identified. Thus, the prosecution is having trouble bringing in witnesses. But do not worry: even though the evidence is lacking, there is an indictment and there is a penalty.
We were able to hear only the fine: 5000 shekels.
Remember, this is the only democracy in the Middle East.