Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing

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Ofer Military Court, 25.1.09

Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky

Translation: Jonathan M.

The druze people are celebrating the holiday of the prophet Shu'ayb, so that most of the translators and other officials are on vacation. Therefore, the court is operating in limited capacity today.

Trials are held only in Courtroom 2, and there is only one judge - Major Amir Dahan.

Hearings took place from 10 am until evening with a shorter break then usual. The patient and untiring judge also offered extensive assistance to the sole translator.

Following is a limited selection from the numerous number of cases brought before the judge today (we only received a partial list of the detaineesinfo-icon brought for hearings that day, therefore, we do not have many of their personal details).

Four detainees who look like children are represented by attorney Saffyia.

The charges: throwing rocks and and a suspicious object.

One of the suspects, Muhammad Kammel Ahmad Machluf, was not yet 16 when he committed the alleged charges. He took part in the event in which no one was arrested; he himself was detained 18 months after the incident.

The attorney asks for a suspended sentence. He states that the indictment is vague and is missing many details. In addition, the boy has expressed regret. The attorney mentions a number of precedents in which regret has been taken into account.

The judge asks the boy (in Arabic) where he studies? what grade? why did he throw rocks? etc.

The detainee answers that he was following the example of older boys and actually did not do anything. He was duped. The father of the boy, who is present, addresses the judge and promises that this will not happen again, and that from now on he will watch over his son.

A ruling  will be given later.

  • - A case regarding 8 suspects who are related to the orphanage in Beit-Oumar. Some of them are released on bail and are represented by attorney Ahlam Haddad. The next session will take place on 22.2.09. There are negotiations regarding a settlement.

Rami Ibrahim Muhammad Jabil - I.D 907106058 - (case: 4864/08), fromBetunyia.

A student from Bir Zeit, was arrested two months ago.

He is charged with membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He took part in a festival of an organization by the name of "Kutub" that is affiliated with the PFLP.

He denies being a member of the PFLP during the years mentioned in the indictment.

The detainee is represented by attorney Naila Atyia.

There is some disagreement regarding the police statement. The judge urges the sides to reach an agreement and schedules the next hearing to the 22.2.09.

Walid Naeem Hassin Falna - I.D 910762574 (case: 4527/08)

He was arrested on the 6.10.08, on the charges of having received a BB gun and an ammo clip from a relative in order to hide them for a third party, whom he does not know.  The suspect pleaded guilty. Attorney Issmaeel Tawil has reached a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Judges ruling: convicts the suspect on the charge of trading with combat materiel, based on his own admission. The suspect pleaded guilty immediately, and this is his first offense. The weapon that he held is of minor significance, and his actions had a low potential for damage.

Verdict: 5 months incarceration + NIS 5,000 + 5 years probation.

  • - Mahmud Faiz Muhammed Aassi (case: 4611/08)
  • - Anwar Yihie Muhammad Shamasne (case: 4627/08)

Both are charged together and are represented by attorney Naila Atiya.

The two are charged with the use of forged documents. Each one used a forged entry permit into Israel.

A plea bargain is arranged in which each receives 100 days of incarceration + a fine of 1,250 NIS.

The judge is surprised by the lenient agreement but confirms the deal.

He adds 12 months of probation.

Suaad Abed Alkarim Omar Arzikat - I.D 850617366 - (case: 2470/08)

Suaad is 21 years old. She has been in detention in the Sharon prison for 8 months.

She is charged with planning a suicide bombing.

Attorney: Ahlam Haddad

In today's hearing we are hearing testimony from Suaad's brother - Bra'a. He is two years younger than his sister and is also held in detention for planning a terror attack; however today he is a witness in his sister's trial.

The prosecutor states in his opening that the witness' testimony will not be used against him in his own trial, but neither will he benefit from his testimony. 

Barra's testimony is as follows:

He entered an internet chat and met someone who introduced himself as a Gaza resident. They used to chat about different day to day issues, including politics and the situation. Most of their conversations were about unimportant issues. A month and a half later he was arrested along with his sister and another brother. He sat in solitary confinement for 50 days and went through harsh interrogations about his contacts with his sister and different elements through the internet.

As a result of extreme pressure from his interrogators, he reported that his sister told the same man during an internet chat, that she was not eager to get engaged but was eager to die, i.e. take part in a suicide bombing. Today he says in his testimony, that his confession then was made up and was only intended to get him out of solitary confinement. This testimony contradicts what he said during his interrogation in the Russian Compound [Police detention center in Jerusalem].

The prosecutor asks the judge to pronounce this witness as "hostile witness".

The attorney states, that the witness does not deny his previous testimony, but that he is trying to explain the motivation behind it. He is pointing out the truth about a testimony that was taken from him under duress and verbal abuse. The defense attorney asks him to tell how he was arrested (at night, in his home) and where he was taken (the military camp in Etzion and later to the Russian Compound). He mentions the names of the interrogators who tortured and pressured him. That's why he made up this story, "to get it over with".

His sister is sitting in on the dock and is smiling and laughing at her fiancée who is sitting in the courtroom. She does not seem like someone who prefers to die rather than to get married.

The attorney raises the possibility that the man from Gaza with whom they chatted on the internet was a GSS person who set them up.

The trial will continue on 8.2.09.