Ofer - Plea Bargain, Release on Bail

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Hagit Shlonsky, Vivi Tsuri (visitor), Norah Orlow (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Shortly before 10, as soon as we arrived at the compound, we witnessed an incident where a Palestinian attorney, hurrying to a court session, was shoved by a soldier at the security booth. We were already on the other side but were able to hear the commotion which included an exchange of blows. Soldiers hastened to remove the violent guard from the scene.

Courtroom 3

10:00 - Appeal in the case of Muhammad Abdel Karim Mustafa Khatib - Case No. 3350/09 ID 851611053, resident of Bil'in.

Judge: Sgt.-Maj. Zvi Lekach

Prosecutor: Captain Jenia Wolinsky

Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky

On behalf of Muhammad Khatib the defense appeals the conditions of his release on bail (as decided by Justice Amir Dahan a few weeks earlier). According to that decision the appellant must leave his village every Friday for a few hours (while the weekly demonstration against the separation wall takes place in Bil'in). His family and one of the guarantors must accompany him.

Atty. Lasky moves to rescind the removal order and to allow him to participate in the demonstrations which, she claims, are legal and take place on private property in Zone B. The question of the license to demonstrate in the Occupied Territories has never been examined before. Since this is Zone B, and the demonstration is of a civil nature, a permit has to be obtained from the PA, not from the Israeli Army. Moreover, according to Supreme Court decision 8414/05, the State should be held  in contempt of court, as it is in violation of the court's decision to remove the fence.

In addition, the appellant, due to his status in the village, has the ability to calm down the atmosphere in the village. Even if he is not allowed to participate in the demonstrations, there is no reason to remove him from the village. The defense requests to allow him to stay so he can join his father at Friday prayers.

The prosecutor, on the other hand, claims that there is evidence showing that Khatib is a member of the Popular Committee Against the Fence, whose members incite the villagers to riot during the demonstrations. The indictment against him cites his involvement, albeit indirect, in the incitement. As a member of the Committee, his presence at the demonstrations provokes violence and constitutes endangerment.

Defense: The prosecution has not cited any argument why the appellant has to be removed from the village and why he cannot attend the demonstrations. The guarantees provided on his behalf are more than sufficient.

A few days later we learned that the appeal had been denied.

Courtroom 2

An evidentiary hearing in the case of Muhammad Khatib was scheduled for later (with Judge Sharon Rivlin Ahai) but the prosecution's witnesses did not show up.

Two additional dates were set for the evidentiary hearings: 7.12.09 and 29.12.09.

Courtroom 4

Judge: Major Menahem Lieberman

Prosecutor: Mghira Sarhan

Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati from the law firm of Gaby Lasky

Defendant: Tamer Omar Ali Khatib - Case No. 3390/09, ID. 949596076, accused of sabotaging a military installation (he hacked the separation fence in Bil'in).

The two sides reached an agreement whereby the indictment would be amended and the defendant would recant his denial and admit to the charges in the revised indictment.

The prosecutor concludes that the penalty would coincide with the days of detention (five) plus probation for four years and a fine of 4000 shekels.

Defendant: I am sorry for what I did. I am employed now, and I won't do it again.

Thus the court plays a central role in neutralizing the residents of Bil'in and preventing them from participating in demonstrations against the separation fence.

As we were leaving, we ran into the father of Sa'ed Hamamra from the village of Hussan (Case no. 1919/08, whose hearings we had attended in the past - see Ofer reports for 22.7.09 and 12.8.09). Sa'ed was accused of "membership in an unlawful association (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), but had refused to sign a statement at the police station, claiming that the charges against him were baseless. His father told us that his son had been acquitted. Naturally, the prosecution is appealing - but the next day Sa'ed was released and went home. There was much jubilation.

Sa'ed Hamamra was arrested in February 2009 and was kept in detention until his release. Who will compensate a young man for nine months wasted in an Israeli jail?