Ofer - Stone Throwing, Remand Extension
Translation: Marganit W.
In Courtroom 7 remand extension hearings were taking place as usual.
Lieut. Col. (res.) Azriel Levy, a familiar face, sat at the bench. Today he had 36 (1) cases in the docket, and tumult and confusion reigned in the small hall. At one point the judge blew his top and upbraided all those present in the court.
I shall focus on the one case I specifically came to watch.
In the last couple of years there is a demonstration every Friday in the village of Nabi Salah against the confiscation of village land by the nearby settlement of Halamish. There are similar demonstrations in other villages, and this popular struggle is a thorn in the side of the army, that tries every Friday to repel the protesters using “dispersion devices” which include lethal instruments. The army uses every means at its disposal to quash this popular resistance.
The case before the court involves two young men from the village who, under pressure during interrogation, incriminated 19 other youngsters from the village (4 were released when they proved that they were elsewhere at the time of the incident).
In a trial dragging for months, it became clear that the incriminators were unreliable and had in fact lied. The 15 other detainees were released, but the military prosecution did not give up: the chief prosecutor, Morris Hirsch took this case as a personal challenge. The prosecution summoned one of the dubious incriminators to additional interrogation in an attempt to use his testimony to bolster their case.
Justice Zvi Lekach relied on this additional interrogation to order the 15 released men back in custody.
The event in this case occurred in July 2015. The indictment included throwing rocks and firebombs at a Pillbox outside the village.
There was one hearing of remand extension today: this one detainee represented the other detainees.
Ossid Ahmad Mahmoud Amara, ID 401729124 - Case 6482/15
Prosecutor: Lieut. Ely Neumann
Defense: Atty. Talia Ramati
The defense raised the argument that the entire evidence relies on the testimony of one incriminating witness whose reliability has been put in question several times in the past.
Thus, for example, he was not present at the incident near the Pillbox, yet he implicated a man with a broken leg who could not have been running around and attacking the Pillbox. In the supplementary interrogation the witness had to revise his testimony and stated that the guy had taken part in the planning of the event, as it appears in a paraphrase from the additional interrogation.
Talia Ramati pointed out other inconsistencies that prove the mendacity of the witness.
“This affair began with a lot of bells and whistles with two incriminators, but the prosecution had to let go of one of them…” she said.
In arguments for the release of the detainee under certain conditions, Justice Levi sided with the defense, noting that, “a mountain in labor has brought forth a mouse”.
As for the prosecution’s attempt to rely on the admission of guilt in the plea bargains of other defendants, the judge noted, “it stands to reason that if those defendants had known the testimonies before us today, they would not have pleaded guilty.”
The judge delayed the release of the detainee until 2.3.16 in case the prosecution wished to appeal his decision. Which, as if by reflex, it immediately did, and the aforementioned Justice Zvi Lekach accepted the appeal. His decision stipulated that the 15 Nabi Salah detainees would be held in detention until the conclusion of the legal proceedings.
Read the protocol (Hebrew).
Of special interest are Justice Levy’s arguments.
N.B. In the meantime the prosecution requested the video from the security camera of the gas station at the entrance to the village in order to refute a claim by one witness that the accused bought diesel fuel there to make firebombs.
The owner of the station claims that the army took the video, which the army vehemently denies.