The list of hearings in the various locations was again missing from the slots next to the courtroom entrances. Considerable time was wasted in getting some of the lists. It became clear that there are various supervisors responsible for the different lists, and we needed to locate them. Kamal, the secretariat officer, did not bother to help.
Courtroom 3: appeals
Judge: Netanel Benishu
Defence attorney: Abu Amar
We heard two hearings, both dealing with appeal against remand till the end of proceedings of suspects in similar offences. In both cases the judge took care to maintain the appearance of regularity and honesty, but in both cases he rejected the appeal.
File: 4667/07 - Nihad Ahmad Amar Adib. Young (20+/-). Married without children. Worked in the past with building iron.
No family present.
Remanded until the conclusion of proceedings on suspicion of membership and activity in a non-permissible organisation. The prosecution argues that he served as director of a summer camp for a month in 2006, and for this they seek a sentence of 24 months imprisonment. During the hearing it emerged that the accused had been a convict in the past, and was released after serving his sentence.
The defence attorney contends that Nihad Adib participated in summer camps of the "Moslem Brotherhood" since the age of 14 and had over the years, as he reached maturity, become a director. He had not been involved in organisational matters, but rather in the activity of youth in the camp: excursions, swimming, computer courses and religious studies. There was no involvement in politics. There should be differentiation, the attorney claimed, between a summer camp (which lasts one month) and a political or military organisation. This is not dangerous activity. The attorney also asked for consideration of the fact that the suspect's mother was sick with cancer, and the accused tends to her. He submitted to the court a medical report attesting to the illness, and requested his release on conditions to be set by the court.
The judge (commenting to the prosecutor that he should not argue his case with hands in pockets) asks whether the accused's identity had been checked, and the prosecutor asserts that there are two witnesses. The judge questioned the assertion that the camp belonged to Hamas. The prosecutor cites the testimony of an unnamed witness. The judge commented that the question asked of the unnamed witness was "loaded," which would not be acceptable, and responded to the prosecutor's contentions: "This is not dangerousness." The prosecutor determines that the accused was a director, not just an instructor, and that in the camp that he ran children were exposed to Hamas ideology. He submitted precedents of similar cases which received remand until completion of proceedings. The judge again questioned: is there a judgment determining that membership in the "Moslem Brotherhood" is forbidden? The prosecutor did not know.
File no. 4668/07 - Bachar Abdulla Muhammad Shaim. 20 years old, a third year building engineering student.
His uncle was present in court (a respectable doctor - hematologist).
In the course of ther hearing, the uncle asked to speak, but was not allowed by the judge on the contention that there is no place for this in appeal proceedings. Later on, the uncle did succeed in intervening, wishing the judge a happy holyday.
The charge: membership in Osra. The defence attorney quotes from the accused's statements in his interrogation, when he admitted being a member in Osra of the "Moslem Brotherhood," which is not on the list of prohibited organisations. There is no danger in this. The accused has the intention to continue studies. Requests his release on conditions to be set by the court.
The prosecutor cites the statement of a key witness who gave, in his interrogation, a list of people in Osra, including the accused. Osra of the Moslem Brotherhood, the prosecutor emphasizes, deals in religious studies with the intent to recruit to Hamas.
The accused himself speaks: interested in his studies, has invested in the hardest of professions and achieved a high mark. His ambition is to continue with medical studies in Philadelphia, where his uncle's son also studies. "I never thought to belong to an organisation and enter into activities."
Judge to prosecutor: is there any ruling that indicates activity in the Moslem Brotherhood as prohibited?
The prosecutor does not know.
The judge takes a recess after which he will give his verdict.
The verdict was given only the following day: the appeals in both cases are denied.
Looking into Courtroom 7, we met Advocate Alaa Zehalka, and heard from him about his handling of Basel Abd el-Jaffar (report by Hava, 24.9.07): if I understood correctly, he intends to submit an appeal since the trial has been postponed, but Basel is not being released on bail (perhaps the indictment has not yet been submitted?) I will check with him whether a date has been set, and will try to follow up.