Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Remand Extension, Barred (from meeting with attorney)

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Tova Szeintuch, Roni Hammermann (reporting)

Russian Compound

Translation: Jonathan M.

Today we arrived with a document from the Deputy Chief Justice of the Military Court of Appeals, in response to a petition we submitted regarding our attendance in remand-in-custody hearings in the Military Court at the Russian Compound.

The most important sentence in the document is: " reference to the notion of public hearing as basic principal... in hearings regarding the arrest of a suspect who is barred from meeting his lawyer, in the absence of a specific order for a ‘closed doors hearing', there is no reason for barring the presence of those who are not representing the suspect."

The judge in charge was Moshe Levi, and the police investigator was Itzhak Yakobov.

Defense attorneys: Shkirat Fahmi and Ma'amun Hashim.

The first suspect was barred from meeting his attorney and we were asked, as usual, to leave the courtroom. We presented the judge with the document and he read it carefully. So did Iztig, the investigator. The judge concluded that the principal of public hearing was appropriate and that we could stay. Itzik tried to object, but not obstinately.

We listened to the absurd dialogue between the defense attorney, who tried to get information about the suspect, and the police investigator who referred him to the secret report held by the judge; when the defense attorney left, Itzik asked us to leave as well.  The judge reminded him that there was a decision allowing us to remain in the courtroom. Itzik was shocked and upset: "every word they will hear here will be quoted on the internet! This endangers the investigation! I thought the decision referred to the parts of the trial in which only the attorney was present [while the detainee is kept outside]! We never allowed any additional presence in the part of the hearing in which the suspect only is in court [while the attorney waits outside]!"

The judge tried to calm him down but with no success. "I will order ‘closed doors!" yelled Itzik. "You need grounds for doing that" replied the judge.

Itzik asked to consult with his superior and left in a rage.

After 20 minutes he returned, whispered a few words to the judge and asked us to stay. All they did in the hearing was confirm the suspect's full name and what he is accused of. He was given the opportunity to speak.

"I didn't do anything!" was all he said.

The next case was yet another suspect who was barred from meeting his lawyer.

This time Itzik was more prepared and asked the judge for a ‘closed doors' hearing, in order to "protect state security". The judge agreed. We felt very important for being in a position to endanger the "security of the state." After having listened to the previous absurd dialogue between the judge and the investigator, we were convinced that there was no reason for a session behind ‘closed doors', or, for that matter, for the arrest of the suspect! But we left the courtroom.

(We would like to point out that Itzik asked not to take his objection to our presence in the courtroom personally. We believe him. His real objection is to the principal of public hearing. We are only the messengers.

We will keep track of the development of events. We will follow the attitude of different judges, and we expect a multitude ‘in camerainfo-icon' hearings!