Ofer - Sentence, Membership/activity in unauthorized association

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Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky

Translation: Jonathan M.

Judge: Menachem Liberman

The list outside of courtroom #4 lists 20 cases. 12 of them deal with charges of membership/activity/holding a position in an unauthorized association, or providing services for that association.

Ahmed Abbed Al-Aziz  Salah Mubarak -  I.D. 981440100 (case #2503/07)

Charge: holding a position in an illegal organization.

Family members were present in the courtroom.

This is the second time we see the defendant. We previously saw him on the 30th of March, 2008, at Ofer; at that stage he had already been in custody for 19 months. Almost a year has gone by since, and today the arguments for sentencing were pronounced.

Defense lawyer, Jamil Hatib and the prosecution presented their concluding arguments.

The prosecution mentioned that the defendant had been charged with receiving and transferring money to the Hammas. She focused her arguments on the standard level of sentencing and mentioned similar precedents.

Jamil Hatib maintained that the defendant has been incarcerated for more than 30 months and asked to release him immediately.

Ahmed Mubarak was a member of the Palestinian parliament for about a month and spent time in Israeli prisons in 2004 and 2005. In 2005 he presented his candidacy to the parliament while still in prison and became an active member upon his release. He was unable to complete the appropriate administrative procedures (pledge of allegiance) before he was arrested once more. The defense lawyer claimed that this fact should mitigate the sentence. At this stage Ahmed Mubarak himself, a heavyset and bearded man, rose and asked to speak. His lawyer was not very pleased with that, but according to protocol the defendant is allowed to speak before the handing down of the verdict.

This is what Ahmed Mubarak said:

"What are you judging me for? What crime have I committed? I wanted to be elected  as a member of the Palestinian Parliament in order to serve my country and to fight the PA's corruption. What right do you have to interfere? Why is Israel interfering in our internal affairs? These elections were held by agreement of Israel, and now you are judging  me as if I have committed a crime? I have never hurt the life of any Israeli - I have never used a weapon, I have never thrown a rock, and I have never interfered with the internal affairs of Israel. There needs to be equality between people. This week there were elections in Israel and extremist parties from both sides of the political spectrum were elected... including the one

of Mr. Lieberman..."

At this stage the judge (whose name is also Lieberman) interrupted him and said: Sir, is ther anything relevant to your case you have to say?"

-"This is relevant", said Mubarak and continued "can you imagine that the PA would interfere in the Israeli elections and would wish to arrest dozens of people who voted for this party? This would be unacceptable."

A small commotion started in the courtroom, but Mubarak proceeded:

"what crime did I commit? Having wanted to serve my country? Is this a crime? If so, how would you call killing more than 1,000 people in Gaza?"

This was too much for the honorable judge who at this point stopped the defendant. He had heard enough and got the point. The defendant went back to sit down in the dock.. The verdict will be handed down next Monday, 23.2.09.

(from a phone conversation with the attorney on 25.2.09. we learned that Ahmed Mubarak was sentenced to 33 months in prison, to this was added a probation sentence from his last incarceration, and 7 months were reduced from his current incarceration. All together he was sentenced to 39 months in prison).

Noah Abed Al-Aziz Mahmmud Harish, I.D. 966255150 (case #2169/08).

A detainee who was released on bail.

His attorney is Illya Theodory.

He is charged with membership and activity in an illegal organization.

A resident of Beituniya. The charge against him: taking part in the elections. Just participation, he was not elected to any post and was not running for any post. He told me that he just hung up campaign posters. He was arrested immediately after the elections and was put in administrative detention for

5 months, together with other members of the Beituniya city council. He is a merchant; he buys home appliances in Israel and sells them in the West Bank (this means he has a permanent entry permit into Israel).