Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Holding and trading of combat materiel, Danger to Regional Security

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Roni Hammermann , Hava Halevi

Translation: Marganit W.

Russian Compound  - Remand Extensions

Judge: Oren Boaz

Investigator: Itzik Yakoboff aided by two investigators-in-training

It turns out that sessions start at 10 AM, so we were about an hour late. Most proceedings must have ended by then, and only a few detaineesinfo-icon remained (most of them prevented from seeing their attorneys). As usual, they were blindfolded and shackled, standing like inanimate objects behind the doors of the narrow hallway. We sat about half a meter away from them, chatting with the attorneys about the marvels of vacationing in Thailand; we are prohibited from talking to the detainees themselves and are constantly watched by a policeman or a prison guard. Thus, we, too, succumb to Routine, the grand queen under whose wings all manner of wrongs and iniquities can hide; we have gotten inured to the routine, and so we chat.

Sari Othman - barred from seeing an attorney. We enter the courtroom when the attorney walks in. The detainee will be allowed to see his attorney tonight (if the prohibition is not extended). He was arrested on 24.3.08, so he has been in detention for two weeks. The attorney tries to find out what was done to his client during that period.

And so he asks:

-Did the detainee submit his version?



-On 24.3.08.

-That is, on the night of his arrest?


-And since then?

-He has given no further statement.

-When will you obtain a "frontal statement"?

 And here comes the part most favored by the investigators. They say to the defense attorney: Hold it, my friend! Remember who has the power here, who has the last word. And in investigators' parlance, "according to the development of the inquiry," a phrase that spells much physical and mental anguish for the detainee, and which marks the cat-and-mouse game that ensues between the defense and the investigator. It goes like this:

-What is he charged with?

-Disturbance of the peace, membership and activity in an illegal organization, threat to peace in the region, arms trading. (all these offenses, you'll notice, are essentially variations on the same offense, which so far is virtual).

-Does he admit his guilt?

-Partially (in view of the fact that he has not given any statement since his arrest, "partial admission" is another code word for: "He denies the allegations." )

-He admits to being a member?

-I can't say at this stage.

-At what stage did he "tie himself" to the charges? (when a man is blindfolded and shackled, "tie himself" is a pure Newspeak. He was tied, bound and shackled against his will. There is a dishonest attempt here to imply collaboration, as if he himself voluntarily linked himself...

-If he admits his guilt, why didn't you obtain a statement?

-I am not allowed to say at this stage.

Thus it goes on. The defense is stuck in neutral. However fast he proceeds, weaves and passes, at the end he'll find himself at the same place, with a confidential report handed to the judge and a smug investigator who heroically saved the homeland from a security threat. So the defense says: My hands are tied, I cannot defend my client...

He is told, "For fear of impeding the judicial process and harming the investigation, I cannot order the investigator to reply", and similarly, I cannot release the client until the trial, "for fear that he might flee the law..." At the end the defense simply asks: "How did you learn about the alleged offenses of my client?"

He is told, "I cannot answer you." Then they brought in the "barred" detainee, and ushered us out; then they took out the "barred" detainee and brought us and the attorney in, and the judge handed down his ruling: remand extension for 11 days. The typist typed the decision, the interpreter translated it, and the prison guard blindfolded the detainee and took him out. Everything was done according to protocol.


2 additions concerning the atmosphere at court (original in English by R.H.): 

The investigator Itzik lost his nerves when he urged us to leave the courtroom and we hesitated, asking the Judge if it was really necessary. He screamed at us that we pretend not to know the rules and that we only want to provoke the procedure: "We treat you with full respect although you disseminate lies in your reports! Now you ask for the dozenth time if you really have to leave! You know very well that you have to get out from the room when a suspect who is prevented to see a lawyer is being heard! You only want to set a provocation!" The judge tried to calm Itzik down, but until he had vented all his anger he did not stop.

The judge Oren Boaz was very eager to create the image of a "neutral" authority obliged to bring the truth to light. He read thoroughly the protocols of the investigation and asked questions to confirm matters. He was so keen to make sure that everything will be understood by everyone that he even "explained" the investigator's laconic answers "This is all written in the secret file". "You must understand" he said to the defense lawyer " that the investigator cannot disclose what is written there. Otherwise he would endanger the further investigation. I read the protocol and there are indeed very serious allegations in this file. which have to be kept secret until they are fully investigated. So please, be patient."  The investigation could not have dreamed to have a better agent of its case than this judge.