Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Membership/activity in unauthorized association

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Ofra Ben Artzi, Hava Halevi

Translation: Marganit W.

We attended the trial of Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Rian,

aka Abu Aslam, ID No. 948475959, born February 1967,

resident of Beit Hur Alfukka. He has been under administrative detention

in Ketziot for 15 months.

Apart from us, his wife and his father are present in the court.

Judge: Shlomo Katz

Military prosecutor: Captain Hagai Rothstein

Defense: Attorney Ilya Theodori

About five security guards and several soldiers and lawyers come and go freely during the session.

The defendant is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful organization. On an unspecified day - unknown to the military prosecution but no later than the beginning of 2007, and until his arrest - he was a member or an activist of Al-Farh association, which is connected to Hamas. According to the indictment, he served as head of the association.

Between 2006 and his arrest, the defendant was in charge of a bakery owned by Beit Likiya association, which is also affiliated with Al Farh association, etc. etc.

When we heard that the defendant was manager of a bakery, we felt really bad. Imagine! A bakery, where bread is made, or pitas, or perhaps Hamas members eat this bread or profit from it?

But no, in the fourth count he is accused of buying an apartment for the association, after the security forces had closed down its offices. The money for the purchase, 380,000 shekel, was given to him by Hamas.

The fifth count is a mystery. In Ramallah, or nearby, the accused transferred a "project file" to a woman, an officer in the organization. Moreover, he took part in 4 or 5 meetings with Hamas activists, where Hamas business was discussed.

The wife and the father of the defendant looked totally mystified when they heard all this drivel. They told us he had a small flock, 30 goats, which he tends. They are his source of income.

Witnesses for the prosecution were a GSS officer who took the defendant's statement and a military expert (in what was not clear) and five Palestinian detaineesinfo-icon.

The prosecution called Witness No. 4 - Ossama Odeh Awee (or Alawee - the typists should be more careful). The witness was warned to tell the truth or he would be punished, as specified by the law... He was also promised that his testimony would not affect his trial which is still pending. It transpired that the witness had worked as a janitor at Al Farh for 6 weeks in 2006. He worked daily from 7-8 AM. All the information about the bakery and the "project file" and the other security risks was gathered from talks the witness had with the secretary of the association during his 6-week tenure there. He never saw anything and did not participate in any activity except those conversations with the secretary between 7-8 AM, when he was not busy cleaning. In this session several changes have occurred: there was no longer mention of 380.000 shekels but rather $5000, with which they intended to buy two apartments for Al Farh Association (Where can you buy two flats for 5000 dollars??)

The "project file" was a money transfer to a woman named Um Yasmin.

Al Farh Association, it turned out in the session, owned not only a bakery but a flock of sheep.

The prosecutor did not let the witness off the hook: How did you find out?

Who told you? Did you know that...? The witness answered all these with:

I heard from the secretary. Or sometimes: The secretary told me.

The defendant's wife and his father did not know the witness, who must be from another village.

In the cross-examination the attorney stated that the entire testimony is hearsay and insubstantial. He moved to forgo the other witnesses' testimony and close the case. The judge said that based on what he had heard so far, he recommended review of the case, which will probably mean closing the case.

The next session was set for 16.9.09. Witnesses 5,6,7 and 8 will be summoned. Stay tuned.