Translation: Marganit W.
We arrived at Salem at 10:00.
It turned out that the attorneys coming from the Occupied Territories were on strike. Only one attorney, from Kafr-Kara was present. He explained that the strike had two purposes: first, to commemorate Palestinian Independence Day (declared in 1988), and second, to protest the brutal interrogation of the underage boy that had gone viral on the web.
We entered Courtroom 2.
The judge was a young man who spoke Arabic.
One by one young detainees were brought in. The hearings were very similar. When there was an arraignment hearing, the judge would read the indictment (We saw one indictment written in Arabic), then ask the detainee if he understood the charges.
The judge explained that since the defense was not present, the court could not accept the position of the accused [This requires the presence of counsel – C.A.]. The detainee will have to explain his position to the defense and the latter will have to examine the evidence before deciding on a course of defense.
The judge added that the prosecution had moved to fine the absent attorney for personal expenses. But since the absence was part of a general strike, he rejected the motion. (The motion must have been submitted before the hearing).
Almost all the hearings were postponed for next month, 13.12.15.
(This long delay is common in the military courts: there is no consideration for the detainees who have to languish in prison).
Family members were allowed to attend the hearings (mostly 2 members per detainee). They had to sit in the back of the court, about 10 meters apart from the detainee.
To my question, one of the soldiers said that this particular judge does not allow the families to come near the detainees (other judges rule differently).
Later, the military Internet “collapsed”, so the detainee was not given an indictment. “The judge has only one copy of the indictment” we were told.