Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Incriminators

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Hava Halevi, Norah Orlow

Translation: Marganit W.

The trial of Sa'ed Suhir Jamil Alhamamra - File: 1919/09, ID No. 852046929, 21 years old,

from Husan

Judge: Hilit Bar On-Biber

Prosecutor: Major Mughira Sarhan

Defense: Mahmud Hassan

The defendant's parents are present in the court, as well as Ilana Hammermann.

We came with Ilana to Sa'ed Hamamra's trial. He is the son of friends of hers about whom she wrote an article in Haaretz supplement last week. The charge is the usual one: membership in an unlawful association. This time it's The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Three police investigators testified today in the trial. They did not conduct the interrogation: they processed the suspects after the interrogations, the admissions and the incriminations, taking their statements, which were later presented in court. The question here is who is telling the truth. Who lies, when, how much, and who is to be believed. It is obvious that someone is lying, since contradictory statements were made at different times to different people. The court is supposed to find the truth.

We witness a theater of the absurd. Sa'ed sits in the dock. The court is interested only in the investigators' testimony; they are: Hashem Halabi, Hadi Halabi and Auni Maklada who interrogated two incriminators, Muhammad Shusha and Muhammad Za'ul. Their testimonies sound like recorded messages, predictable, uniform, undifferentiated. They all say that the interrogation was conducted in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and that the detaineesinfo-icon gave their statements willingly and freely. How "freely"? After 42 years of violent occupation, it is heartening to hear that the GSS allows the Palestinians to act on their own free will. Apparently only during interrogations. How credible is this?

The GSS interrogators present a uniform picture of an investigation conducted in the native tongue of both accused and interrogators. They read each page aloud and the accused signs at the bottom. There were no irregularities in the interrogation (i.e., no pressure, beating, insults etc). Had there been any, the interrogator would have made note of them, as per instructions, but there were none (he claims).

How come the detainees' statements are credible when they are under interrogation, but not when they claim (and they do) that the statements and the signature were obtained under pressure, threats and false promises?

Attorney Hassan asks the three interrogators: Did you tell the accused that he's allowed to consult a lawyer?

They all say YES.

-Then why is there no indication in the memorandum that he wanted - or not - to see a lawyer?

The interrogators each say that the accused said nothing.

-He said nothing, says the attorney, because you did NOT tell him he could talk to a lawyer. You wrote it in the statement, but you did not tell it to him.

Who, then, is telling the truth? What really happens in the interrogation rooms where the assembly line produces thousands accusations and incriminations, all conducted in a ‘pleasant and relaxed atmosphere' and where all statements are given freely and willingly. How can you find the truth when the interrogator tells the court: I interrogate many people a day and I can't remember all of them.

-Did you promise the detainee that if he signs, he'll be taken out of solitary confinement?


-Did you threaten him with 160 days in solitary? Did you rough him up?

-No. Never. The atmosphere was relaxed. These are false allegations.

-The names mentioned in Muhammad Shusha's interrogation are not the same as those mentioned

  in Muhammad Za'ul's interrogation. How do you account for that?

-I don't remember.

-There are discrepancies between names and times provided by different detainees during


-I don't remember. This is not my concern. I only take their statements.

-What were the conditions of Muhammad Shusha's detention before he was brought to you?

-I don't know. In my interrogation the atmosphere was relaxed...

...a poster for summer camp.

The next evidentiary session was set for 12.8.09 at 2 PM. The defendant, Sa'ed Hamarma is scheduled to testify together with two witnesses for the defense. Come one and all. It will be interesting.