Salem - Plea Bargain, Release on Bail

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Lea Reichman: (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Today is the trial of Said Salah Said Hatib, whose arrest at Shaked-Tura was witnessed by Anna NS and myself on 27.4.09 (see Salem report, 3.5.09).

I received a list of 24 hearings and attended 12 of them.

Judge: Major Giora Eldan.

1. 2635/08 - Amid Said Muhammad Iyad, ID No. 950228890
Accused of conspiracy to kill.
Defense: Muhaned Haraz
Category: Arguments for penalty
Prison time to coincide with time spent in detention.

The prosecution states that a plea bargain has been reached. The defendant was convicted in a previous hearing.
Ten days prior to his arrest the defendant met with a woman whom he tried to enlist for a suicide bombing. The prosecutor reports that the woman turned the defendant down, no target was chosen and no details were agreed upon. There were only talk and no concrete action. No mention of membership in a hostile organization. The defendant, though, has a prior record. In 2004 he was accused of conspiracy. He admitted his guilt and saved the court valuable time, as there was no need to summon witnesses. Since there is some difficulty proving the case, the prosecution agreed to a plea bargain. 14 months in jail seems like an appropriate penalty that serves the public interest.

The defense agrees, adding that the case relies on the testimony of a woman who suffers from mental problems and has family issues. Her allegations are unsubstantiated. Had there been other witnesses, the
defendant would have been acquitted. The defendant told the court that he is his family's sole provider and promised not to repeat the violation.
The judge decides that there are no grounds for conviction. The penalty in the plea bargain is tantamount to an acquittal. Hence, the jail time will coincide with the time spent in detention. It is not a heavy punishment,
the judge says, although deprivation of liberty is a serious matter. The plea bargain is accepted and the detention started on 23.4.09, will terminate today.
The defendant's probation will be extended by three years. 24 months probation for five years starting today, to deter him from repeating his offense.
I can't begin to describe the joy of the defendant and his family.

2. 2284/09 -  Muhammad Nasser Mahmud Anati, ID No.852300839

Accused of handling and selling combat materiel
Defense: Nader Haraz
Category: Arraignment
The defendant is a young man. His parents and babyinfo-icon daughter are present.
The hearing is postponed to 13.7.09. By then the two sides will decide on
the penalty.

3. 1009/09 - Hanin Ziad Kamel Nasser Allah, ID. No. 910651793
Accused of leaving the territories without a permit.
Defense: Hasan Titi
Category: Arraignment

The judge is shocked:
The defendant is a young woman married to an Israeli Arab. She admits her guilt and accepts the charges. She has no prior convictions and this is her first violation. She was sentenced to three years plus probation. The defense asks for shorter probation since during that period the accused won't be able to obtain a permit to enter Israel to meet with her husband. The judge is shocked: not see her husband for three years?
Intolerable. He removes the probation.

4. 2153/09 - Muhammad Ibrahim Abed-el Aziz Yamin. ID No.852378611
Accused of holding and selling combat materiel
Defense: Mustafa Azamta
Category: Arraignment
The defendant is a young, pale man. Hearing is set for 13.7.09.

5. 2468/09 -  Fuad Taleb Said Ashkar, ID No. 850203118
Accused of membership and activity in a hostile organization
Defense: Mustafa Azamta
Category: Arraignment
The defense attorney explains the indictment to his client. The defendant denies the allegations.
Hearing is set for 13.7.09.

6. 2158/09 - Abdullah Haled Abdullah Saluadi, ID No. 850361684
Accused of holding and selling combat materiel
Defense: Mustafa Azamta
Category: Arraignment
Four witnesses will be summoned.
Hearing is set for 13.7.09.

7. The hearing of Said Hatib, whose trial I came especially to hear.
2329/09 - Said Salah Said Hatib, ID No.907632369
Accused of attacking a soldier on duty.
Defense: Muaid Kabha
Category: Arraignment

Surprise: Said is not present. The judge asks a prison guard to find out what's going on. The attorney says he saw Said at Salem at 9:30. The attorney is upset and angry because he is due to appear in court in Haifa
shortly. It turns out that Said was taken to a police interrogation. The judge orders the Prison Service to bring Said in within 15 minutes. In the meantime, the hearings continue.

8. 2156/09 - Seif Aldin Hussam Saleh Awad, ID No. 851975185
Accused of preparing/ throwing/planting a bomb.
Defense: Mustafa Azamta
Category: Arraignment
A young man. The attorney explains the charges and requests a postponement to 13.7.09. Everyone agrees. The defendant's sister has had a baby and he is allowed to greet his family in court. Hallelujah!

9. 2285/09 - Ahmad Ziad Muhammad Kashmar, ID No. 850063025
Accused of membership and activity in a hostile organization.
Defense: Mahmud Hassan
Category: Arraignment
The defense moves to postpone the hearing to 13.7.09.

Back to detainee No. 7. The prison guard announces that Said will arrive in three minutes. The hearing continues.

10. 2146/09 - Yusuf Halil Yusuf Hajab, ID No. 854327731
Accused of manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
Category: Arraignment.
The detainee is a young man. His family, including a sweet little girl, tries to communicate with him from a distance. The girl sends him a message with hand gestures and he sends her a heartfelt kiss. The detainee
looks happy and does not listen to the judge. The hearing is postponed.

11. 2328/09 - Muhammad Rajah Muhammad Albazur, ID No.907629513
Accused of membership and activity in a hostile organization.
Defense: Muhmad Haraz
Category: Arraignment
The accused denies the allegations.
Next hearing set for 13.7.09.

Back to No. 7, Said Salah Said Hatib.
The Israeli Police representative explains: After the security check Said was sitting in the waiting room. Half an hour later, a prison guards checked ID cards and took Said for questioning. They were told about his
scheduled trial and were asked to be brief. Unfortunately, the questioning dragged on because they wanted to finish the interrogation before Said entered the court. The policeman apologizes for the inconvenience.
Said is led in. He is on bail. He wears civilian clothes and does not sit on the defendant's bench.
The defense states that the investigation was concluded about a month ago and that the prosecution has submitted an indictment based on the investigation transcript. The defense takes a very dim view of the present
The judge says there's probably a need for further investigation.
The defense objects to an investigation on the day of trial. The judge says it is permissible.
The defense says that at this stage when the investigation is allowed to continue, he needs more time to examine the new material and moves to postpone.
The judge accepts the motion; there is no objection from the prosecutor.
The hearing is set for 14.7.09 with Justice Halabi presiding.

12. 3711/08 - Nadem Jaber Othman Miale, ID No. 850444878
Accused of membership and activity.
Defense: Muhaned Haraz
Category: memorandum
The attorney moves to postpone. The hearing is set for 13.7.09.

13. Said's attorney recommends that I move to Courtroom 1.
The hearing here is similar to that of Said. Two brothers are accused of attacking soldiers. I enter after the session has begun. The judge is a woman.
A soldier testifies that he saw nothing. A Palestinian shoved him and he fell to the ground.
The two defense attorneys, through repeated cross-examination, try to challenge the soldier's allegations. The judge declares a 30-minute recess. She has 14 other cases and looks exhausted (so am I).
After the recess, another soldier testifies. He is the checkpoint commander, a tall, robust fellow. He swears to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  The prosecutor wants him to describe the checkpoint ("crossing" in her parlance). He says he serves in the Tul-Karm region and that the gate is an 'agricultural' one. At fixed hours, the state allows the farmers to cross in the morning and return in the evening when their work is done. This is Gate No. 609. At 7:30 PM, they check the passengers for illegal objects. This is their job. On 28.4.09 a resident of the village arrived. The soldier is asked to point at the person (there are two defendants on the bench). The soldier continues: The resident is registered as eligible for passage. Then his brother arrived. He was repeatedly told to stop, but he continued to walk, so they pointed the gun at him and he stopped. He was told to lift his shirt - standard procedure - and he refused, shouted, threw a fit and continued to approach the
soldier who insisted on keeping a safe distance. The brother, who had been watching, ran back and pushed the soldier.
The witness explains that this is an 'agricultural checkpoint', small and friendly; the soldiers recognize the Palestinians, who cross there daily, so he did not take the incident seriously and continued his daily routine.
He checked the ID of the younger brother, the "troublemaker" and found him on the blacklist. He let the other farmers through and started attending to the brothers at 6:50; a third Palestinian was present. He asked the
younger brother for his permit, but the man shoved him and hit him with his fist. The soldier hit back and they both fell down. The soldier called for help. A scout who happened to be in the area shot into the air. The
third Palestinian ran away, they overpowered the brothers and the incident was over.
The attorney wanted to know if there is a camerainfo-icon at the checkpoint. The soldier said he was not authorized to answer this question.
The judge said: If you know the answer, tell us.
The soldier says he does not know. He is in charge of the checkpoint and he checked the younger brother's ID. The soldiers were interrogated by the Military Police Investigators. A complaint was lodged against them.
The defense requests to see a transcript of the investigation.
The Prosecutor promises to check. She wants to finish examining the soldier.
The soldiers' testimonies seem to be coordinated. The checkpoint commander is impatient with the defense's questioning. He vents his frustration and is reprimanded by the judge.
The judge wants to hasten the process. She has other cases.
The defense tries to find inconsistencies in the soldiers' testimonies.
The commander says he lost a tooth as a result of the fistfight.
There will be more testimonies at the next hearing. There is a request for medical reports.
The next hearing is set for 29.6.09.