Ofer - Stone Throwing, Minors

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Norah Orlow, Hava Halevi

Translation: Marganit W.

At 10:00 nobody waited by the gate and the yard was completely empty: no families, no lawyers, only soldiers sitting at the gate, clueless and uninterested.

At 10:30 four buses passed by, full of family members on their way to various prisons. This is the reason for the empty court. ‘Ziara' - the visits of prisoners' families at various jails around the country. At Bitunia checkpoint the buses were checked for over two hours, halting traffic for everyone else. We'll return to this delay at the checkpoint later. The attorneys from Jerusalem, however, were able to come. In one of the halls, we caught the tail end of a hearing where the judge told a young suspect: "your attorney did not show up so the trial is postponed." As usual, it was the attorney's fault for not showing up. The judge wasn't even aware of the fact that the checkpoint had been closed from 6 AM even though, as military judge, he is part of the same system that governs the checkpoints.

Then there was some mysterious "defense drill, but before we could find out about it, it was over.

At 11:00 the hearings started.

Judge: Zvi Frankel (res.)

Mazen Abu Shakra, resident of Bethlehem, represented by Atty. Ihab Galid.

The charge: membership in an unlawful association. In fact, two associations: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In two police statements the suspect admits most of the charges against him: producing an incendiary device, possessing combat materiel and throwing rocks. As always, the charge of membership in an unlawful association is too vague. They made him an offer, he agreed, and then he recanted.

Judge's ruling: The suspect poses a risk, therefore remand until the conclusion of the proceedings.

Aassem (I did not get his last name), 21.

Defense: Atty. Munzar Abu Ahmed.

No family members were present in the court.

A frail looking young man. The charge: membership in an unlawful association. A previous decision released him on 4000-shekel bail, but the family did not have this sum. They could not even afford the bus ride to attend the hearing. The attorney requests "affordability investigation" citing a Supreme Court decision that a person should not be remanded in custody for lack of funds. The attorney moves to reduce the bail to 2500 to be paid not by the family but by a benevolent association that specializes in posting bail for Palestinian detaineesinfo-icon.

The prosecutor opposes the reduction claiming that the accused had not submitted any proof of hardship nor made any effort to pay the bail. [My question: how can he submit proof when he's in jail, with no phone, and the family doesn't even have the money to come and visit him?]

The defense attorney, too, wants to know how his client could have obtained the money. From Wall Street?

Now the judge conducts the "affordability investigation".

Judge: Where do you work?

Suspect: I don't work.

Judge: So what do you do?

Suspect: I'm looking for work.

Judge: What does your family live on?

A long silence, then the accused says: The blessing that God sends us.

Decision: The parents are unemployed, so the sum is reduced to 2500 shekels.

The judge also allows Aassem two phone calls to arrange the bail.

Salah Abu Ghosh, 14 years old from Qalandiya refugee camp. Represented by Atty. Iyad Misk.

We attended the first part of this case on 8.12.09 (see Hagit Shlonsky's report).

The defendant is sick and needs constant medical treatment. In a previous hearing the judge ordered him released on 8000-shekel bail. Meanwhile, the release was postponed, due to the appeal of the prosecution. The Appeals judge ordered the prosecution to adduce new evidence in view of the "weak evidence" (another newspeak term), in order to obtain a remand extension. The suspect's mother pleaded the court to put her in jail instead. Today she was present in court too explaining once more that her son should not be incarcerated, as it is crucial that he should not miss his medical treatment. Well, the prosecution found new evidence. The judge, however, sustained the release order. The prosecution requested, and was granted, 72 hours to appeal. If there is a decision to release the sick boy on bail, there will be a review of the 8000-shekel decision depending on the financial situation of the family.

Samih Jadalla Ali Hatib, a 14.5 years old from Bil'in. Case No. 3894/09

Prosecutor:  Lieut. Tamar Bukia

Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati

This is part of the army's massive campaign against the village of Bil'in (See Amira Haas article in today's Haaretz).

Prosecutor: there is a video recording of the defendant and another boy throwing rocks at the separation wall.

Defense: My client is a minor. He suffers from a heart condition. The interrogation was in violation of his rights as a minor.

Decision: Remand extension for 4 days, until 27.12.09.

Additional comments:

At 13:40 I had to leave the court to go to my car. Two women, who had been barred from entering, approached me and asked me to summon their lawyer. A relative of theirs was being tried in court. They had to wait at Beituniya checkpoint until 11, and consequently were late, arriving after the lawyer (who is the only one who can admit them in court). I found the lawyer and relayed their request.

At 14:45, on our way home, we found the two women still waiting outside. There are no bathrooms and no food there. The women had left home at 6 AM. They told me that the lawyer had come out to see them and had promised to arrange things; but they were still waiting. His cell phone was turned off the whole time.

This is not the first time we encounter such behavior from lawyers, which is truly deplorable.