Ofer - Holding and trading of combat materiel, Interrogation of Witness

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Roni Hammerman, Norah Orlow, and Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

We were present in two courtrooms.

Tova Szeintuch reports from courtroom 2:

Judge: Lieutenant Sharon Rivlin Achia

The hearings begin at 10:30. 

Two detaineesinfo-icon are brought in


Case 4140/08 - Hamdi Ma'aruf Hag Ahmed Alatrash - ID 853674034

Charge: manufacturing and throwing incendiary material

The judge announces to Hamdi that the evidence hearing has been postponed to 29.1.09.  The reason for the postponement is that the 4 soldiers who were to serve as witnesses have been transferred to Gaza.  The defense, Ilia Theorody, knew that the hearing for this case was postponed and therefore asked not to appear. 

"Witness Number 6" is released and will be summoned on 29.1.09.    

Case 3716/08 - Hamid Mohamed Suman - ID 911787158

Defense: Mohammed Na'amna

Charge: membership and activity in an unauthorized organisation

Evidentiary hearing

A witness is brought in and is first examined by the prosecutor.

The witness is identified and it is made clear to him that his testimony will not affect his own case.  The prosecutor asks him what he is accused of:

Answer: Membership in the Students' Islamist Organization Jama'a Islamiyyeh.  According to him, this organization is not run by any other organization. 

The investigator asks him, "Who was with you?"  What senior position did he hold?  Who else was with you? 

Witness: "The defendant was not with me."

The witness answers most questions by saying he does not remember.  The prosecutor enumerates what he said during his interrogation at the police station and emphasizes that he did not provide any incriminating material. He claims that he does not remember what is being said in his name and that the signature that appears on each chapter is his, he signed without knowing what he was signing. 

The prosecutor asks to declare the witness as hostile to the prosecution, because he denies what is written in his police statement. 

The witness claims that apparently there is confusion between the name he gave, ‘Hamdin', and the name of the defendant who is on trial - ‘Hamid'. 

"I don't know the detainee personally, we only study together. I suggested that he participate in the student elections and he refused.  He claimed that he had already been in jail and that he was not interested in being detained again. 

The man is from Bethlehem and is about 20 years old." 

The prosecutor asks the witness to identify a picture that has already been presented to him during the interrogation.  She claims that he then identified the defendant as Hamid Hassan. The witness says that is not so. 

The prosecutor wants to know whether he claims that the investigator is lying. 

"No," says the witness.  "I don't want to say that." 

The witness asks the judge for permission to speak: 

"I am a person, I am a mathematics student. My connections are with students.  During the interrogations I was in a difficult psychological state; I was under stress.  During the interrogations in the Russian Compound I was alone, I had no one. I'm used to a free life, to be surrounded by people.  Any person who undergoes a stress situation like I did,  would not be able to control his nerves, and would not be able to remember what he said." 

The prosecution emphasizes that the witness must know that anything he says will not affect his own trial. "We are trying to clarify the truth here", she says. 

"What do you expect?" the witness answers.  "Anyone who is brought to the Russian Compound only wants to get out of that hole.  The things that I said are not lies. I might have said things which are not correct because during the interrogation I didn't know what I was saying." 

The prosecutor: "Did anyone put pressure on you?" 

"Yes, psychological pressure. I was very tired. The investigator talked all the time, and I didn't quite know what I was saying.  The pressure was psychological; I would say each word that the investigator wanted: I cooperated with everything he asked, because I wanted to get out. I knew that if I didn't cooperate, they would bring me back to my cell, and I would be completely alone." 

The defense presents his questions in Arabic.  The prosecutor asks him to speak Hebrew.  The judge explains to her that he [the attorney] does not speak Hebrew and permits him to continue in Arabic. 

There was simultaneous translation throughout the hearing. 

The defense requests to move the case to the conclusion stage on 26.01.2009

Courtroom 4 (Norah Orlow Reporting)

Judge: Lieutenant-Colonel Dror Sabrensky

Prosecutor: Eran Levi

I will report about 2 of the cases dealt with in courtroom 4:

Adnan Ibrahim Mohammed Abu Aram - Case Number 2792/07,

ID 901717512

The defendant is a resident of Yata. 

Charge: Possession and trading of combat material

Defense: Attorney Mahmud Mahajneh

Evidentiary hearing

According to the indictment the offense took place in 2003 when the defendant purchased a gun without having a license from a relative (Fadel Abu Aram) for 1,100 Dinars.  The defendant was arrested two years ago.

During the defense examination the defendant denies the alleged offenses. He denies that his uncle, Fadel Abu Aram, sold him a weapon as his uncle claims.  The defendant confirms that he was released on bail from detention at the Hebron Police station, as the weapon was not found and there was no evidence against him. 

During the prosecution's cross-examination the defendant denies the claim that he and his uncle had quarreled over a debt.  According to him, his uncle had no reason to revenge himself by incriminating him. 

The defense witness, Fadel Abu Aram denies having sold a weapon to the defendant.  "That's a lie that I told those informers.  I wanted to be their friend because I was afraid of them... I didn't sell [a weapon] to him or anyone else."  He admits that he and Adnan had a disagreement and that he incriminated him out of revenge. 

During the cross-examination the witness is asked why he was afraid of the informers, seen that he wanted to be "their friend."  The answer: "They told me that they wanted to take me somewhere and beat me up."  Then he says that they had indeed beaten him and questioned him, and he admitted that he was at odds with Adnan and that he wanted to take revenge on him. 

Judge's decision: The prosecution and the defense will present their conclusions in writing.  Afterwards an internal reminder conference  will take place on 16.3.09.

Mustafa Rivhi Mustafa Aassi - Case 4876/07-ID 850303280, from Beit Likia. 

Charge: conspiracy to kill

Defense: Attorney Gabi Lasky

Evidentiary hearing

The parents of the defendant are present in the courtroom.

We have been following this case for many months. (See reports on"Ofer" on the following dates: 2.1.08/ 24.3.08/ 30.6.08/ 28.7.08).

Today the prosecution has summoned 2 witnesses: both are police interrogators.  The examination focuses primarily on the conditions under which testimony was taken from the incriminating witness and from the defendant. 

The police interrogator's answer to several questions is that he does not remember.  When the defense asks if the interrogation was recorded (since the interrogator states that he did not write everything down) the answer was negative.  "Such is the decision made by the High Command.  We don't record interrogations."  [Interesting!]  There is confusion regarding the name of the defendant that the incriminator gave. No confrontation took place between the two of them, and the incriminator was not presented with a photograph of the person he incriminated.  The question regarding whether there had been a quarrel between the incriminator and the defendant was not asked. The defense claims that there are two contradicting versions (the defendant's and the incriminator's) in this case.  Answer: "I never interrogated the defendant."

The defense asks another question: "Has Fatah been declared a hostile organization? " The witness's response: "Not at all.  But anyone dealing with terrorist activities with the objective of harming Israeli targets...is breaking the law." 

The defense claims that the police interrogator did not question the defendant regarding his membership in the El Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, and that he had no evidence pointing to his belonging to the organization.

The date for an additional evidentiary hearing was set for 9.2.09. 

At that hearing all the witnesses will be heard: the last witness for the prosecution  Sergeant Major Yosef Ashmuz, Jassem Aasi, and the defendant. 

The defense asks the court to provide the defendant with an indictment in Arabic.