Salem - Plea Bargain, Sentence

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Norah Orlow, Sara Alimi, Hagit Shlonsky (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Judge: Major Yariv Navon

Defense: Attorney Muhammad Abed

Defendant: Ghassan Sharif Muhammad Haled

We have been following Haled's trial from the beginning, when he was brought in for remand extension at the Military Court in Petah Tiqwa, then transferred to Ofer and Salem. [Cf. posted reports on our site for 23.1.08, 13.2.08, 20.2.08, 12.3.08, 22.5.08,25.8.08]

Ghassan Haled is entangled in two parallel legal procedures:

a trial in which he was indicted and then released on bail after two months in jail, and an administrative detention which he has been serving at Ketziot Prison for the last eight months.

Today, the "released" detainee Ghassan Haled was brought here from Ketziot, and later in the day he would be remanded there as an administrative prisoner. We were unable to figure out how these unrelated procedures can be conducted simultaneously. The judge who had just "released" the defendant did not address the administrative detention Haled is serving. Only at the end of the trial did we hear the judge ask the defense, in passing, if Haled was still under administrative detention.

Three GSS investigators were slated to testify for the prosecution, but right before the hearing we were told by Attorney Abed of some dramatic developments: the main witness (the student Harazi) who in an earlier hearing denied the prosecution's allegation that he had told interrogators, namely, that Haled had given him 10,000 dollars for students' aid [Cf. report in Machsomwatch website of 25.8.08] recanted his denial. According to the attorney, the witness, who is in detention, changed his testimony in order to have his sentence (of 6 years in jail for various charges] commuted to 13 months.

In view of this development, said the attorney, Haled decided to accept the charges, based on Harazi's incriminating testimony, and agreed to a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Haled's parents (from the village of Jayyus) were present in court, as were four friends of his, Israeli peace activists.

The judge accepted the agreement reached between the prosecution and the defense and handed down his verdict:

The defendant is convicted, as per his own admission, on the charges included in the revised indictment, i.e., membership and activity in an unlawful organization, in violation of regulations 84 and 85 (1)(a) and 85 (1)(c) of the (Emergency) Defense Regulations of 1945.

The defense points out that the defendant has no connection to Hamas; "the man he helped is known to him as a member of Kutla Islamiya which is the students' branch of Hamas..."

Before handing down his verdict, the judge let the defendant speak.

Ghassan Haled said that he hoped for justice, for the rule of law and for peace between the nations of the region, adding that he hoped to return to his family, to his work and to the quest for peace, which he pursues together with his friends who are sitting in the courtroom. The judge read his sentence:

-Jail time to coincide with the period of detention from 16.1.08 to 19.3.08.

  It is stressed that in this case the defendant is released, and this verdict does not include any other component of incarceration.

-4000 shekels fine to be deducted from the 30,000 the defendant posted as bail (or four months in jail).

-10 months probation for 4 years starting today, on condition that he does not violate the injunction against "membership and activity, holding position or providing services to an unlawful organization."