Translation: Marganit W.
Judges: Amir Dahan, Menahem Lieberman, Ronen Atzmon - all captains.
Defense: Attorney Aadel Hameissi
Courtroom 1 - Detainee Arafat Abu Shaira is brought in front of a panel of three judges to hear the verdict.
The trial has been dragging for a year. Judge Lieberman announces that the verdict holds 18 pages with many clauses, so he will read only the gist - convictions and acquittals. There are 55 charges, some admitted by the defendant. I cannot specify because not all were mentioned by the judge. But the real revelation is in the counts that he was not convicted on. This is (roughly) what the judges said:
On those counts [I do not know their number.- H.H] we cannot convict the defendant because they are based on statements obtained by Investigator David Mizrahi. It transpired during the trial and from reading the statements, that the investigator does not speak Arabic. Therefore, we recommend transferring this information to his (David Mizrahi's) superiors.
When I related this to one of my friends, she wondered: why transfer this information to his superiors? Don't they know that he does not speak Arabic? Apparently not.
I was curious to know how did this well kept secret came to light. Did the judges read the statements attentively? Did they find contradictions among the various counts of the statements? No.
In earlier sessions, the attorney checked this point and asked this investigator who works in the Russian Compound to translate a few simple sentences to Arabic. He could not. He asked him again to do some simple translation and he failed again. Judge Amir Dahan is well versed in Arabic, both spoken and literary, and it was probably he who realized what a snafu this was and what it implies. So what really happens in the interrogation rooms between detainees and interrogators?
The attorney told me: Thousands of people may be sitting in jail based on interrogations and statements of this Mizrahi who interrogates people whose language he does not speak. There can be thousands appeals of such wrong convictions. Countless defendants say in court, "I never said this to the interrogator", and the interrogator says, "I read him his statement, which he gave freely and willingly. The interrogation was conducted in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and he signed the statement." Palestinians, we know, tell the truth only when they confess, cooperate with the investigators and incriminate others. When they deny the allegations - they must be lying.
And the judges always side with the interrogators, not with the suspects. Thus, it is quite understandable that they did not know that David Mizrahi does not speak Arabic since he told them that he did. Why bother to check?
I wonder, will Mizrahi be removed from office? Will anyone undertake to appeal the convictions based on investigations by an officer who does not speak Arabic?
Next week the arguments for the prosecution will be heard.