Ofer - Stone Throwing, Minors

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Avital Toch, Norah Orlow, Tova Szeintuch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Courtroom 3: Military Court of Appeals

Judge: Lieut.-Col. Zvi Lekah

Prosecutor: Major Jenia Wolinsky

Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky

The prosecution is appealing a decision to release two minors accused of throwing rocks in the village of Budrus.

Halef Lutfi Halef Awad -  ID No. 859831802, Case No. 1245/10

Muhamad Naim Ahmad Murad - ID 859346173, Case No.1246/10

The minors are 14 and 14.5 years old. They were arrested on 10.2.10 and have been in custody every since. (see earlier report on these cases in "Ofer" 16.2.10 PM)

Charge: throwing rocks at the wall which is situated about 500 meters from their school. The children did not cause any damage to people or property.

The children's parents are present in the court, together with representatives from the British and Spanish consulates.

The prosecution appeals the minors' release claiming they are security risk.

Justice Zvi Lekah takes the prosecutor to task about the investigations, which were conducted in the middle of the night.

The prosecution did not have any convincing answers, neither regarding the late hours of the investigations nor about the investigator who interrogated them.

The prosecutor claims the investigator was qualified to interrogate children.

Atty. Lasky states categorically that the investigator in question is NOT an investigator for minors.

The children were arrested at 3-4 in the afternoon and were interrogated very late the same night, at 11 and 11:30 PM.

The defense further states that Amendment 14 to the Youth Law created new conditions for interrogating youth and new principles of legal proceedings. The law now aims at rehabilitating minors, not penalizing them.

The court ruled that even though the law does not directly apply to the inhabitants of the Occupied Territories, its principles and its spirit apply to the territories. Twice did the court decide to release these minors, and twice the prosecution appealed, first regarding the length of the remand extension and then demanding detention until the end of the legal proceedings.

Remanding them in custody at Ofer holding center contravenes the spirit of Amendment 14 of the Youth Law.

Atty. Lasky came to the hearing well prepared and seems to convince the judge.

The judge, through the attorney, asks the children's parents: "Do you realize that if the children will be arrested again, next time the punishment will be much more severe?"

Both parents understand and agree to take responsibility. They also tell the court that they are unable to pay the sum required for their children's release.

In summation, Atty. Lasky refers the prosecution to the amendment to the Youth Law and its intention. The prosecution takes exception to the defense's recommendation.

Atty. Lasky adds, "The children have already served their punishment. They were in detention for more than ten days under prison-like conditions.

The judge later decides to deny the prosecution's appeal and releases the children under the same conditions stipulated by the earlier court, i.e., a 5000 shekel fine each.