Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Danger to Regional Security, Remand Extension

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Roni Hammermann, Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Russian Compound 

Judge: Azriel Levy

Investigator: Nissim Argaman

We arrived at the court at 11, without delays. Justice Azriel Levy was already in the courtroom, trying to locate the typist and the interpreter. Both arrived at 11:20, after the session had started and the judge had starte to write the protocol by hand.

There were 10 cases in all. The first 4 were of detaineesinfo-icon prohibited to confer with a lawyer.

When the typist and interpreter arrived, there was a short break allowing the typist to get organized. It turned out that it was her first time in court. The judge showed great consideration, dictating slowly and explaining technical aspects of the computer. Her chair was low and uncomfortable, necessitating frequent changes in her position.

The judge apologized to the defense for the delay, and asked him to speak slowly and clearly in order to encourage the soldier, who was improving "from line to line."

We were present in four cases, all prohibited from meeting with a lawyer.

There were two defense attorneys: Maamun Hashim and Shadi Firas.

The military remand court has 3 doors: entrance to the court (used by the detainees and by us), a door to the yard (always locked) and a third door leading to an inner room, accessed through the courtroom. At a certain point in the discussion of the second case, the door opened, and a woman chewing gum loudly crossed the hall and made her way out. The judge, deeming this a disturbance of normal proceedings, told the woman sternly not to walk through the court, or he would have to disqualify the proceedings and move the cases to Ofer. The woman looked at him, did not say a word, and left the hall.

A few precious trial minutes later she came back. Justice Levy stopped the proceedings and Nissim, the investigator,  went over to the adjacent room, which serves as a dentist's office. Nissim told the occupant of the office and the woman that the judge is furious and that they should not cross the hall while the court is in session. The man in the room was heard saying, "What's that? I'll go out whenever I need to."

Naturally, the judge was very angry and demanded to talk to the prison commander, who was not in the building at the time. A higher-ranking officer heard the complaint and told the people in the adjacent room: Go out now, or we'll lock the door until the end of the day!

The officer told the judge that everything was in order now and left.

The second trial resumed.

The four legal discussions were almost identical: the same questions by the defense and the same answers by the prosecution.

Whenever the prosecutor could not answer the defense, the judge consulted the dossier and answered for him.

None of the detainees were present in court during the proceedings.

In a jocular vein, the judge suggested copying the protocol from one case to the next since "except for the names, they are identical." (except also for ages, provenances, occupations, marital status, feelings.... the questions and answers were identical, only the detainees were different people...)

The four were charged with security breaches in the region.

The four were arrested in January.

In one case, the policemen broke the nose of the detainee when he resisted arrest. He needed stitches. The defense requests medical follow up and the judge promises to do so.

The investigator requests extension of the ban on meeting between detainees and attorneys and also extension of interrogation period. The attorneys ask why more time is needed, even though they know the answer; it has to appear in the protocol.

The investigator replies that it is confidential. The confidential material is with the judge. It includes the schedule of the investigation. Previous judges reduced the number of days of the interrogationand, consequently, the interrogators did not have enough time....

The intelligence material of the SHABAK (GSS-General Security Services)  interrogation will never be given to the defense, so this information will always be a mystery to the defendant and the defense.

In the first case the defense was not given a protocol, because the printer was not working.

This does not surprise anyone because the remand court is rife with technical problems

(for instance: a missing extension cord).

The Judge is visibly displeased. The investigator calls someone on the phone. They decide to use the judge's "disc on key", and the protocol will be printed somewhere else.

Attorney Firas leaves the court without the protocol.

During the third case, the judge decides to take action and repair the printer. Everyone takes part in the mission: the investigator, the defense attorney (the detainee is absent) and a technician who came to help.  Desks are moved, searches conducted under and behind the desks, and in the middle of this hectic activity, the door to the dentist's office opens and two figures sneak out discreetly. It was quite a grotesque scene.

After much ado, the technical malfunction is resolved: the printer was not connected to the power. Now it is connected and it works!

During the fourth case the judge asks the prosecutor: "What's wrong with you? They deserve to see a lawyer. It's part of the proper legal game."

He signs the protocol.

We leave the court as the fourth "prohibited" detainee enters.