Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Remand Extension, Conditions of Detention

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Ilana Hammerman, Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Russian Compound 

Translation: Marganit W.

Investigator: Avi

Judge: Kobi Raz

An interpreter is present in the court, but most of the translation is done by Avi, the investigator.

We walked in without delay; the usual check-up at the gate, but when Avi saw us with our personal bags, he was displeased and demanded

a re-examination, so the contents of our bags were checked again.

He advised us in the future to come to court without bags.

We got the impression that he was trying to make things harder for us, perhaps even to deter us from coming.

The judge arrived at 11:45.

The first detainee had been waiting long, his face to the wall, squeezed behind a door that kept opening and closing, as if he were not there at all. The prison guard in charge kept pushing his head to the wall. The detainee was blindfolded and shackled. We asked the guard: Since the detainee is blindfolded and can't see, why does he have to face the wall?

He shrugged and finally said, I know, but what can I do. Ask the investigator.   Attorney Ma'amun Hisham told us that there is an appeal

to the Supreme Court concerning this humiliating treatment of detaineesinfo-icon waiting for remand extension. He did know any details about the appeal (who, when, etc.)

When the judge arrived, Attorney Hisham was let in and the session proceeded without the detainee, who remained standing in his corner.

He was legally barred from conferring with his defense. As usual, the investigator, Avi, tried to bar us from attending, stating that procedure prohibits our presence. Ilana asked him later to specify which procedure and where can we see it, and he burst out angrily, saying that he owes her no explanation and that she is disrupting his work. He went on in his tirade, insisting all the while that he has no time to talk to us... [suggestion: submit an official request to the military court to clarify the rules - they can't possibly be a military secret...]

Altogether, 8 cases were processed, two of them of detainees barred from seeing their lawyers. The discussions were very brief - the detainee was informed of a remand extension request of 18 days with a settlement for 11 days. The detainee was asked if he was agreeable, and he, of course, said yes, so the remand was extended. In two cases it was reported that the agreement was obtained by phone call with the lawyer. The procedure was similar in all the cases, so when a detainee was ushered in, all the investigator could have done was say to the judge: "Ditto", and the typist would have hit the proper key for "Copy".

The judge did not even glance at the files, and from the third case on, he waved his hand to indicate that there is no need for the detainee to rise, thus dispensing with court decorum and underlining the routine nature of the procedure. Or maybe it was just total indifference.

Three detainees complained about health problems (asthma, post-operative leg) or poor detention conditions (not enough food, cold, crowdedness in the cells). The judge shrugged and half smilingly said that those things are not under his jurisdiction, all he can do is make recommendations. He repeated the same words in each case. He mumbled something to the typist about referring the detainee to a doctor and, once, recommended changing cells and/or heating the cell.

Some of the detainees were represented by Attorney Ma'amun Hisham and some by Attorney Bilal Mahfus. Two, as mentioned earlier, had their cases settled by phone.