Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Remand Extension, Incriminators

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Hava Halevi, Ofra Ben-Arzi

Translation: Marganit W.

Russian Compound


Judge: Shmuel Fleishman

Investigator: Nissim

Defense: Fahmi Shakirat, Gaby Lasky

We were permitted to attend a session of "barred" detaineesinfo-icon (with their defense present) only when Attorney Gaby Lasky was around. When she was not present, we were forced to leave, without any discussion taking place between judge and investigator about the reason for our eviction,
unlike Justice Tal Rosenweig, who three days earlier tried - in vain - to have such a discussion.

Justice Rosenzweig requested the investigators to present a concrete document demonstrating why we should be excluded from the session. At that point the GSS investigator threw a tantrum and interrupted the important discussion, which to him was probably no more than "democratic hair splitting" and a situation getting about to get out of control.

1. Yazid Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim - 11-day remand extension by agreement

Before the session, the detainee asked Attorney Fahmi Shkirat to lodge a complaint about the conditions of his detention. The judge acceded, and the detainee described how he had been handcuffed to the bed in his cell, with his hands spread apart (he demonstrated). The judge wanted to know what Investigator Nissim had to say. The latter said: "We have nothing to do with the conditions of the detention." The detainee complained of pains in his stomach and lower back. In his decision the judge instructed the supervisor of the detention facility to respond to the complaint (in a document to be included in the file) within 24 hours. He also ordered the detainee to be examined by a physician prior to his return to Ashkelon.

It transpired that during the interrogation, the detainee had denied the charge of arms trading, brought against him by "another man" with whom he allegedly exchanged guns and ammo.

Four days later, on 25.8.09, following a phone conversation with Attorney Shakirat, it turned out that the Detention Authority had not responded to the above complaints. Moreover, based on new information, a new remand extension order had been issued, which cancels the previous order, and of course prolongs the detention.

2. Omar Salim Muhammad Hamdan - 11-day remand extension by agreement

The detainee looks very young, but apparently is not a minor. However, the actions in the indictment were obviously committed when he was a minor, three years ago. At that time, on the eve of the Palestinian Authority Elections, the detainee was active in Ossara, a Hamas organization. He distributed flags and posters of candidates, attended Koran classes in a mosque, and marched in parades and rallies organized by Muhammad Amro.

Decision: Due to "credible suspicion" - remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings.

For the next sessions, the judge asked us to step out because everyone present - judge, investigator, and attorneys - agreed that the detainee was "barred" [from meeting with his defense]. But no document supporting our eviction was presented by Investigator Nissim.

3. Ibrahim Amira (barred from meeting his attorney) - 8 day remand extension

We were allowed to attend the session, with Attorney Gaby Lasky. Apparently the court did not want a showdown with the attorney, so it relented in this case.

Ibrahim Amira, 42, is a leader of the non-violent struggle against the separation wall in N'ilin. He is a member of the popular council in the village and served as its spokesman in the Israeli and international media. About a month ago he was arrested in the middle of the night as part of an intimidation tactic. He was warned to stop giving interviews. A few hours later he was released unconditionally. Undeterred, Ibrahim continued his non- violent activity to protest against the wall. Thus, he was arrested again on 14.8.08, in the middle of the night, and taken to the Russian Compound for interrogation. On 17.8.08 an order was issued to bar him from meeting with Attorney Gaby Lasky.

Persistently and vehemently, attorney Lasky argued with a judge and an investigator who seemed all-knowing and in possession of secret information, which they guarded jealously. Only after repeated requests to cite specific allegations - beyond "violations of security in the region" - did the investigator cite suspicion of throwing rocks and even a firebomb. The Defense countered that on the day of his arrest Ibrahim had a valid permit to enter Israel, which proves that he had passed all the security checks, and thus refutes all the allegations in the GSS secret file. She demanded his immediate release, or conversely, significant reduction of his detention.

The investigator - a policeman who for all intents and purposes represents the GSS, not the police (Ibrahim, it was pointed out during the proceedings, is still investigated by the GSS and had not deposed at the police) - requested an 18-day remand extension, as per "investigation plan."

We left the courtroom so Ibrahim Amira could face the court in a separate discussion, without his attorney. We saw him in the hallway, silent and stooped, handcuffed and shackled, his eyes covered with huge glasses, waiting his turn. His figure fit Ilana Hammerman's description of similar detainees: a "obliterated man".

The guard helped Ibrahim get up and led him - seen yet unseeing - to the courtroom. He took off his glasses and pushed him in, lest he exchanged looks with us. I wonder what he was thinking when he sat there waiting. Will he be the same man when he returns to his village, or will his spirit be broken and disconsolate. What is clear is that the Israeli Security apparatus - acting in the name of the general society - wants not just to suppress and break the human struggle for life, but in fact to annihilate it altogether. Ignorance of the facts does not exempt Israeli citizens from responsibility.

The judge's decision: Remand extension for 8 days.

On 27.8.08 Attorney Lasky told us that she had visited Ibrahim Amira in the Russian Compound the previous day. His condition was good. As soon as the ‘prevention injunction' expired on midnight 21.8.08, a new order was issued for one week. Lasky submitted a "pre-high-court" petition, whereupon the injunction was lifted, and she was able to visit the detainee. He had been interrogated only about his participation in demonstrations and stone throwing. There was pressure on him to incriminate minors from his village. He refused.

The next day, 28.8.08, there was another remand extension hearing. The judge released Ibrahim, due to the insubstantiality of the charges. The investigator promptly requested a "prevention injunction" until noon 31.8.08 to appeal. The judge ruled that even if an indictment is submitted, there would be no "detention until the conclusion of the proceedings."

Confused? So are we. This is a blatant psychological warfare, part and parcel of the occupation system.

4. Hijazi Ali Hassan Qawasme

This detainee, too, with the help of Attorney Fahmi Shakirat, opens with a complaint about the state of his health: he wants out of solitary confinement and to be seen by a doctor. He also asks to confer with the investigator to explain a few things. He is suspected of arms trading, in conjunction with his brother - events that happened 4 years ago.

We assume that remand extension was granted (we were unable to hear).