Ofer - Danger to Regional Security, Separation Barrier

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Norah Orlow, Judith Sternberg (reporting)


Translation: Marganit W.

Ofer Military Court is in recess due to the Feast of Sacrifice; the only hearing was the case of Abdullah Muhammad Abu Rahmah from Bil'in -

- Case No.2620/10.

Judge: Colonel Aharon Mishnayot
Prosecutor: Police Officer Eran Levi
Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky

Besides the parties, the people in the audience included Jonathan Pollak (spokesman of the Coordinating Committee of the Popular Struggle), three diplomats from the British, German and French consulates, MK Barake, a Jerusalem Post reporter and us. Abdullah's family was delayed at Beituniya Checkpoint and did not make it to the hearing.

Abdullah's trial and his 12-months prison sentence have been covered extensively. Today Abdullah was supposed to be released from prison, but the prosecution [basing its case on the 18 months sentence Adeeb Abu Rahmah received for similar charges] wants Abdullah kept in prison until the court hearing of the prosecution's appeal for a stiffer sentence. The defense objects to this motion.

The prosecutor began by citing two reasons for the requested extension: the danger the defendant poses and risk of flight from legal proceedings. Drawing an analogy between the cases of Abdullah and Adeeb Abu Rahmmah, he argued that the prosecution's appeal has a good chance and that Abdullah's case was more serious than Adeeb's and that he had violated the terms of his sentence, i.e., he did not refrain from taking part in demonstrations, and thus he cannot be trusted.

Arguing for the defense, Atty. Lasky cited a Supreme Court ruling that remanding a person in custody beyond the prescribed term requires extraordinary circumstances, which had not been presented by the the prosecution.
Objection to a penalty does not constitute justification to deprive a person of liberty; remanding Abdullah in custody would mean a priori partial acceptance of the prosecution's appeal.

As for the flight risk, Atty. Lasky argued that during his previous trial that lasted five years, the released Abdullah reported to all the hearings without a special warrant.

In case the court decides to extend his sentence, Atty. Lasky suggested alternatives to prison time and warrantees that would prevent him from traveling from Ramallah, his hometown, to the demonstrations in Bil'in, and would ensure his reporting to future court hearings, all this in addition to assurances by MK Barake.
The defense, too, drew an analogy between Abdullah and Adeeb, stressing that Abdullah had been acquitted from a charge of violent behavior, that the violations were carried out 6 months before the arrest, that Abdullah no longer resides in Bil'in and that there was confusion as to when the violations occurred.

In conclusion, the defense invoked personal reasons for immediate release: Abdullah has an 18-month old babyinfo-icon, this is holiday season and it is difficult for his wife to visit him in jail.

At this point the judge found out, for the first time, that if the Ofer compound can't be reached through Beituniya, there is no way except getting there through Rte. 443 [Israeli territory]: it is practically impossible for someone without entry permit into Israel to visit the Ofer compound. The judge promised to check this out.

Decision was deferred to 21.11.10.

For a protocol of the hearing see:

We checked on Sunday night: no decision had been taken yet.
In the meantime Abdullah Abu Rahmmah is under lock and key 'to ensure security in the region.'

On Monday morning we found out that the judge had decided to accede to the prosecution and remanded Abdullah in jail until the prosecution completes
its appeal.

The Jerusalem Post's report on the hearing can be read at: