Ofer - Sentence, Membership/activity in unauthorized association

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Ilana Hammerman and Roni Hammermann (reporting)

morning + afternoon

The newly built, "improved" entrance to the military court is extremely depressing; it is evidence to the fact that the occupation aspires to a very long life.

Room Nr.3, Court of Appeals

Judge: Lieut.-Col. Netanel Benishu

Prosecution: Major Oren Lieber

Defence attorney: Mahmud Hassan

Defendant: Saed Suhir Jamil Alkhamamrah - file nr. 3426/09,

ID 852046929

Appeal of the prosecution to the Military Court of Appeals against the decision of the previous court's decision to acquit Saed.

Saed was arrested in his house in the village Hussan in the middle of the night on 17.02.09. The indictment was issued on the 24.02.09 and he was charged with "membership and activity in an unlawful association", the "Popular Front", with participating in a procession of the organisation and with writing slogans for the organisation.

After almost 9 months of hearings and examining witnesses, the court reached a decision to acquit the defendant and give him the benefit of the doubt. This happened on 5.11.09. The prosecution immediately appealed to the Military Court of Appeals against the discharge and demanded to keep Saed under arrest until the verdict of the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals overruled the petition and released Saed on bail of 10.000 NIS on  11.11.09. on condition that he will not leave his village until the Court of Appeals hands down its ruling.

Today, 16.02.10, the petition of the prosecution to the Court of Appeals against the acquittal of Saed was heard. One of the arguments of the previous court in favor of the decision to acquit the defendant was seen in the failure of the investigation to confront the incriminator with the defendant. The prosecution argued that this failure could have been corrected in the course of the hearings. Another argument of the prosecution was that judge Hilit Bar-On-Biber was not completely convinced that Saed has spoken the truth, but gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The demand of the prosecution was that Saed should confess to the charges of the indictment, namely membership and activity in an unlawful association. Under these circumstances it wouldl agree that his sentence will be commuted to time served in detention, but it nevertheless insisted that Saed should be released on probation.  

The defence attorney admitted that the core of the problem lies in the credibility of the defendant. He reminded the court that Saed is supposed to donate one of his kidneys to his sister, who will have to have a kidney transplant, which will be performed in Israel. Release on probation will prevent Saed to receive an entry permit from the Civil Administrationinfo-icon.

Justice Benishu accepted the arguments of the prosecution and suggested that the 2 sides consider the "options" and return to the courtroom after the lunchbreak.

Saed was quite desparate. Right from the beginning, he refused to confess to having been a member of the Popular Front. But if he wanted to stay out of prison, he would have to "confess" now. Release on probation was another problematic issue, because he would then be refused an entry permit to Israel. The interrogations and prison life did not break him. But the idea to return to prison was, of course, extremely threatening. He decided to accept the "offer".

That's how the military court system outplays the Palestinian prisoners and receives the desired statistical data, namely almost 100% "guilty" Palestinians

In the afternoon the verdict was given. The defendant was declared guilty of the charges of "membership and activity in an unlawful association" and serving this association in writing slogans and participating in processions.

The sentence :

1. the prison term is commuted to the time already served in detention,     8 months and 23 days.

2. 6 months on probation for 2 years

3. a fine of 5000 NIS