Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Plea Bargain, Maltreatment

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Michal Z., Hagit S. (reporting)

Translation: Eldad K.

The judge arrived a little after 10:00 and yet we had to wait behind the metal door, but this time only 15 minutes. We again heard the firm contention that we were prohibited from using the waiting room until the start of the procedures, as we used to do until recently. The delay in the hearings this time was due to the fact that the soldiers from the Nachshon unit did not have the time to take the appropriate prisoners out of their cells and line them up outside the courtroom (as usual they stand in the corridor behind the door with their faces towards the wall, hands and feet shackled and eyes blindfolded).

The hearings started at 10:45 and continued until 12:30. In the course of the morning 13 cases were dealt with, 8 of these about prisoners who were held incommunicado, even from their lawyers.

The judge: Fleischman (a lawyer, doing reserve duty at the military court). This time he was more conceited than usual. Pleasant, joking, his behavior signaling that he, like all the participants in this show, understands that this performance must be done with as soon as possible).

Policeman/investigator: Itzik Jaacov; towards the end he was replaced by Dudu Mizrahi.

Interpreter (translates only a little. At times dozing off, and leaves the room occasionally. The judge does not pay any attention to this).

The lawyer is Na'amna, hired by the prisoner's uncle to represent him as this is the first extension of arrest. Na'amna parleys with the investigator and reaches an agreement of a 15 days extension. Asks to tell the prisoner that he is representing him and that he will visit him as soon as the prohibition order is lifted. Immediately thereafter the prisoner is led into the room and we and the lawyer are led out of the courtroom.

Lawyer Firas, the only one who is present in the court (except lawyer Na'amna as above) is representing Nadi Al Asir. He represents 7 prisoners who are in isolation (amongst them several whose lawyers have not arrived for the hearings today). Lawyer Firas interrogates the investigator about the investigation that is going and, as expected, does not get any answers. He requests to minimize the number of days of arrest.

Five prisoners who are not in isolation are also represented by Firas (if the protocols promised us will arrive we will set things straight and add information as necessary).

An emaciated prisoner, some 20 years old. His lawyer Tamer Avivi visited him in prison a week ago, but who is absent today. Lawyer Firas accepts the request of the court to stand in for lawyer Avivi and reaches agreement with the investigator on an extension of arrest for 11 days. On the judge's question whether the defendant has a medical problem he answers that he had a wound in his throat which healed with the help of medicine he received from the doctor in the detention center. In his decision the judge itemized the suspicions against the defendant: took part with others in throwing incendiary bombs, was connected with stone throwing, in one case gave a cigarette lighter to a person in order to ignite the device that he threw at a military jeep. He is connected with possessing weapons. In the file there are findings to substantiate these suspicions. In other words: confessions.

Mahmoud Hawatfa, a youth who looks about 14 years old.

He does not know his lawyer.

The judge: they telephoned to his house twice and requested that a lawyer be hired.

The boy says that a week before a lawyer visited him and represented him at the extension of his arrest which was decided to be 8 days. The judge counsels the boy to represent himself (!) or that he be represented by lawyer Firas. He agrees.

Firas agreed to 11 days and the prisoner confirms this. In his decision the judge enumerates the vharges: took part with others in planning an attack on a settlement in Israel, is connected with possession of weapons.

Adnan Shalash. Lawyer Firas, replacing lawyer Avivi, converses with the prisoner in the corridor (a meeting of a lawyer with his client!) and the investigator Itzik joins them. On this occasion, outside the courtroom, the lawyer reaches agreement with the investigator on 11 days extension of arrest. The judge accepts the agreement not before he asks the defendant if he has any medical problem and is answered in the negative.

Abdul Rachman Matslah. A journalist who has visited Saudi Arabia and is under arrest already more than a month. This will be his fourth extension of arrest. Yesterday his isolation was removed and Firas met with him for the first time. The investigator (Dudu Mizrahi, as Itzik went to lunch) requests 18 days. Firas explains that the defendant has been interrogated already by the secret service and the police about his travel to Saudi Arabia in the beginning of the year and his contacts with the heads of Hamas on the same trip. His trip was related to his work as a journalist but he did not manage to meet with the top men of Hamas and he had no connection with them. He requests to be released. There is no offence against the security of the region.

The judge inspects the file and states that the journal for which the suspect works is associated with Hamas; "I would also be arrested if I worked for a journal associated with Hamas", utters the honorable judge and concludes: 8 days of arrest.

(When we sat outside the courtroom Firas was approached by the investigator Avi, who did not appear in court today, and discussed with him the possibility of releasing the journalist without a judge. Apparently this possibility exists, unbeknownst to us).

Shaadi Atta
. Was arrested on Oct 15th, 2007, and this is his second extension. The investigator requests 23 days. Firas questions the investigator about the progress of his investigation and does not get any answers; everything is in the confidential report. The suspect denies all suspicions about his link with the Hamas. Firas says that there are no grounds for the suspicions and if there are such - the material should be forwarded to the prosecution and prepare an indictment.

The judge summarizes that there are grounds for his arrest because of fear for obstructing the procedures and to enable supervision of the court over the necessary investigations. And so, 15 days of extension, and an order to transfer the material to the prosecution.

In a conversation with Firas about appeals [we learn] that one of the judges who hears appeals (the judge Mina) is known always, without exception, to reject appeals that are presented by the defense. And he always, without exception, accepts the appeals tendered by the prosecution. And also from this conversation in the corridor with Firas: These days there are many arrests of ‘old' cases who were shelved during the elections for the PA. They are now taken out again because there isn't a lot of work these days.