Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing

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Hagit Shlonsky (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Courtroom 7

11:40 AM

Judge: Captain Etty Adar

Suheib Hadr Abdul Aziz Burkan, ID 854693926, born May 1995, a high school student from Hebron. He's been in detention since 24.2.10.

His father and cousin are present in court.

The boy, who looks young for his age, is wearing brown prison uniform fitting his size. This proves that the GSS is well equipped for the several hundred minors now in custody.

"Minors" in the Occupied Territories are children under 16. We have previously commented on the fact that proceedings of the "Juvenile Court" instituted in the military courts last year (2009) do not include detention and interrogation of minors. Only after an indictment has been issued for a minor, will a trial be conducted by a judge who has been especially trained to try minors and children under conditions that take into consideration their tender age.

Unlike Israeli children and youths, but like Palestinian minors who get arrested, Suheib Burkan was interrogated without a parent or a social worker present, late at night and by interrogators trained to extract admissions by various techniques (including ‘moderate physical pressure'). Defense attorneys report that most minors confess the alleged crimes under interrogation.

Suheib is charged with "throwing rocks at an IDF jeep with the intent of hurting the passengers." He denies the allegations. He rejects the identification by a soldier in the jeep who claims to have recognized the rock thrower.

The detainee is brought to court and sits in the dock with adult detaineesinfo-icon. Attorney Iyad Misk states that Suheib denies the allegations, claiming that the soldier testified 15 minutes after the rock had been thrown at the jeep (hurting no one), without ever establishing eye contact with Suheib all this time.

Attorney Misk reminds the court that in the case of minors, alternative to detention should always be considered, especially in view of the fact that he is incarcerated with adults at the detention facility and under conditions that are reprehensible by all accounts.

The judge handed down her decision after the break: remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The defense will appeal.


Tuesday 2.3.10.

Courtroom 3: Appeals

Observers: Hava Halevi and Hagit Shlonsky

Judge: President of the Military Court of Appeals Lieutenant-Colonel Aharon Mishnayot

Appeal in the case of Suheib Burkan

Defense Attorney Misk requests an alternative to detention. He cites precedents from earlier cases and repeats his arguments stated in the lower court. He stresses that every additional day the minor spends in jail causes him irreparable damage. After seven days in custody he is still jailed with adults under conditions that are unfit for minors.

The prosecutor, Jenia Walinsky, too, cites precedents stating that the soldier in the jeep saw the boy who threw rocks clearly and his testimony is strong proof.

The judge turns to the father, who is present in court. The father promises to keep an eye on his son and asks the court to release him. He promises to drive him to and from school in his car.

24 hours later the judge hands down his decision: release on bail for 3000 shekels plus third party guarantee for 10,000 shekels.

Atty. Misk appealed also the detention of Akram Al Aziz Alkarim Sharawna, ID 854562881, 15.5 years old.

Akram is accused of throwing rocks during a ‘public disturbance aiming to harm life or property'. The incident took place in Hebron on 23.2.10. He was arrested with other boys (one is Ahmad Maher Abu Ramila, ID 90206446 who is co-defendant in this case but is not present in court). Akram denies the allegations. He is sitting in the dock wiping his tears. His mother is present in court.

The defense repeats what was said above, stressing that Akram has been in jail for 8 days with adult detainees.

Prosecutor Jenia Walinsky cites precedents and talks excitedly about "risk" and "combustible situation" where children throw rocks in their villages... [nobody in court wonders why there are soldiers in those Palestinian villages, who are allegedly the targets of those rocks - H.Sh.]

The judge asks the defense to reach an agreement with the prosecution right away. Perhaps he, too, notices the tears in Akram's eyes. The defense explains that the boy denies the allegations and that it is not yet time to cut a plea bargain.

The judge - through the attorney - asks the mother if she agrees to a plea bargain, but she does not understand. She tells the court that she gave her son 15 shekels and sent him to the grocery store to get bread, but on the way he stumbled on a demonstration, trying to cross the street....

The court stops her. She was only asked about alternative to detention, but she does not understand "alternative to detention" nor the convoluted ways in which the court functions, certainly not legalese when it is translated into Arabic.

Akram was not so lucky: the judge rejected the appeal and the boy will remain at the Ofer detention facility, apparently until he pleads guilty to the charges,  so that the attorney can then negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution.