Ofer - Release on Bail, Holding and trading of combat materiel

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Norah Orlow, Hava Halevi

Translation: Marganit W. 

Courtroom 1

Judge: Captain Menachem Lieberman

During the three hours of this afternoon session 8 people came before the judge. 4 were accused of "membership and activity" (in a hostile organization), 2 of "holding a position" in the legally elected Hamas administration which came to power in a democratic election, but lost favor in the eyes of the rulers and thus became a hostile organization, and one defendant accused of "providing shelter" for a man either wanted by the Shabak for interrogation, or who has already been interrogated and declared "dangerous to regional security." One detainee was accused of "possessing  and trading in military material."

We report only one case that includes evidence.

Defense attorney Jamil Hatib represents Ahmad Abd el-Aziz Zalah Mubarak, accused of "holding a position" (in a hostile organization).

He has been detained for 18 months and his trial is still not over. He sits in the dock, showing no interest in the trial; he is just an accessory, an ornament in this farce, because the investigation centers on Aziz Kaid, a man in prison uniform. Prosecutor Lieut. Jenia Wolinsky's questions reveal that the aforementioned Aziz Kaid served for two months as a secretary to the Hamas government, until it lost favor, and he was arrested and convicted.

During his short term in office and as part f his job, Aziz Kaid counseled government officials about ministerial appointments. He met many of Hamas leaders, was in charge of allocating money for social activities and took part in cabinet meetings.

He does not know the man sitting in the dock.

Prosecutor: but you said that you had met Ahmad Mubarak and that you gave him money every month.

Aziz Kaid: True, him and another man. The money was for social activities.

Prosecutor: Every month?

Kaid: I was in office for only two months, so I must have seen Ahmad Mubarak once or twice.

Prosector: Describe him!

Kaid: Swarthy, short, thin, with a bushy beard.

Prosecutor: Do you see him here? (The detainee in the dock is rather hefty, tall, and with short fair hair.)

Kaid: No, I do not know this man.

Prosecutor: You saw Ahmad Mubarak at cabinet meetings?

Kaid: Yes.

Prosecutor: So why do you say that you don't know him?

Kaid: I don't know the man. I saw him and I know who he is. I saw him as part of my government position.

And so it went on and on. The prosecutor shows him memoranda from his interrogation and asks, "Why did you sign this?" and he says, "I was told to sign, so I signed." She asks, "Did they shout at you at the interrogation?" and he says, "Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. My wife, too, was arrested and we were both interrogated, in separate rooms..."

Thus, inadvertently, a picture emerges of oppressive mass detentions and interrogations, of memoranda written by investigators - in Hebrew - of interrogations sometimes carried out with threats and intimidations, culminating with the detainee signing texts in a foreign language that he does not understand. The detainee relies on the integrity of his interrogator, but later, sometimes after years, the convicted prisoner realized that in the statement he signed, he incriminated someone named Ahmad Mubarak.

In addition, the prosecutor is not familiar with the structure of government in the West Bank. The prisoner explains that there is a difference between the government and the Legislative Council - these are separate entities (but what does it matter? They all constitute a threat to regional security. They are Arabs.)

We asked Mubarak's wife and sister how many Ahmad Mubaraks live in Ramallah. His wife threw her hands in the air, "Perhaps five hundred."

Later, another convicted prisoner was brought in: a boy charged with hanging pictures of the candidates running for office (this is called "providing services to an illegal association). He could not identify the accused either.

Thus, while we, the prosecutor, Justice Menachem Lieberman, the underemployed interpreter (who doesn't translate even half of what's said in court, and when he does, it is incorrect), the typist and the security guards were all lost in the thicket of Ahmad Mubaraks - the trial is postponed to 23.4.08 for evidentiary hearing, by which time Ahmad Abd El-Aziz Zalah Mubarak will have spent 19 months in detention.

Courtroom 6

Judge: Captain Azriel Levy (res.)

(Throughout the trial the judge fulfills many functions: he corrects the young prosecutor's grammatical mistakes, orders the interpreter to do his job and spells words that the typists misspells or misunderstands).

Prosecutor: Lieutenant Yacov Hatina

Case No. 2103/08 Muhammad Yakub Halaila - ID No. 85014901,

19 years old, from Hebron.

Charge: Illegal entry into Israel, impersonation, use of false documents.

Defense: Shaludi Huaz

The defendant's father, who is present in court, tells us that his son crossed into Israel in search of work. He was arrested on 18.7.07.

Since the defendant denies most of the charges, the case will go to evidentiary hearing, which means that the trial may take a long time.

The defense asks to release his client on bail until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The Prosecutor objects, claiming  that the defendant has a prior conviction for illegal entry from 2007, and if he's released he will pose "danger to regional security. "Another claim: "The defendant has chosen a lifestyle of illegal entry into Israel and has done so on several occasions. This phenomenon of unauthorized entry [using forged documents] puts a heavy burden on the security forces. It prevents them from going after terrorists."

The defense rejects the "danger" allegation. The prosecution claims that the defendant has entered Israel 5 times and thus is a danger to the regions. However, during all this time of comings and goings, his client was not involved in any troublesome activity and should not be considered dangerous. The family is in dire circumstances since the father has had four cardiac surgeries.

The court is recessed to enable the defense and the prosecution to confer, but they do are unable to reach an agreement.

Judge's Decision: (citing the deputy president of the military court of appeals):  "In view of the present security situation, the use of fake documents to exit the region justifies (in the absence of special circumstances) remand in custody until the conclusion of proceedings."

Thus, the defendant is remanded in custody until the conclusion of the proceedings. His arraignment is set for 29.4.08.

Case No. 1646/08 - Issa Jibrin - ID No. 851102756 - 16 years old,

from Ar-Ram.

Charge: Illegal entry into Israel.

The boy tried to enter Israel using a ladder that he leaned against the separation fence, together with a 14 year old boy (who was released with a fine).

Defense: Nasser Novani

An uncle and an aunt of the defendant are present in the courtroom. The aunt explains that the boy's father cannot attend because he is sick.

The prosecutor reiterates that "this offense puts a heavy burden on the security forces" and requests remand until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The judge concurs, but since the defendant is young, he orders the boy's release until the beginning of his trial, under the following terms:

2500 shekel deposit, plus third party bail for 10,000 shekels (signed by an Israeli citizen or a local resident possessing a work permit in Israel). The judge sets the arraignment for 12.5.08 in Justice Lieberman's court.

The prosecutor requests delaying the release until 17:30, so the prosecution can decide about an appeal.

If an appeal is in order, he requests postponing the release until tomorrow noon.

The judge states that if there is an appeal, the defendant will be released at noon the following day, under the abovementioned terms.