Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing

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Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky, Norah Orlow (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

We came to observe the hearings of the Bil'in and Na'lin detaineesinfo-icon. One hearing took place in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

Morning Session

Muhammad Abd Alkarim Mustafa Hatib - Case No. 3599/09, ID 85161053, resident of Bil'in

Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Achai

Prosecutor: Captain Yael Cohen-Vagon

Defense: Attorney Neri Ramati

Muhammad Hatib was released on bail on 17.8.09 when the indictment of "rock throwing" was proved erroneous and unsubstantiated: on the alleged date of the offense, the accused was abroad.

Today, the defense claimed that the charges are too broadly formulated and are based solely on testimony by an incriminator who testified that the defendant "carried out some acts."

There is no mention of specific time or any details of actions done by the defendant. Those acts could have taken place anytime in the last 35 years, until February 2009 [when the systematic arrests of Bil'in residents began]. The incriminator did not know when those events took place; he wasn't even asked. How can one defend against such allegations, asks the defense.

You cannot give an alibi nor bring witnesses to refute the allegations. As for the charge of "rock throwing" on a specific date [in the original indictment] - that one could be refuted because the defendant was overseas on that specific date.

The defense has the same objections regarding "who" [was involved in the incident] since the charges refer to members of the entire "Popular Committee Against the Fence", while the prosecution does not make clear who the members of the committee are. The indictment against Adib Abu Rahma includes a list of members of the committee, yet Muhammad Hatib's name is not on it. It is impossible to determine the defendant's alleged offense...the charge is too broad... it keeps referring to "his role as a member of the committee". He is charged on one occasion with "disturbing a soldier" and on another with "providing services to an unlawful association". Even assuming that he is a member of the Committee Against the Fence, that committee has not been declared "unlawful". Instead he is charged with "providing services to the Popular Front [of the Liberation of Palestine] which is indeed an "unlawful association". In view of all this, the defense concludes, this indictment is indefensible. He moves that the court consider these preliminary objections before deciding.

The prosecution requests a written response within a few days.

The case is scheduled for "internal memorandum" hearing [i.e., without the defendant]. No date is set.

Afternoon Session

Abdullah Assad Amira - Case No. 4353/09, ID 85305652. An18-years old resident of Ni'lin

Judge: Major Michael Ben David

Prosecutor - Police Officer Rostislav Passek

Defense: Attorney Neri Ramati - from Gaby Lasky law firm

Charge: rock throwing during a demonstration of Na'lin residents on Friday.

The defendant's older brother is present in court.

The defense moves to release the defendant - the prosecution objects.

Arguments for the prosecution: Request to detain the defendant until the conclusion of the legal proceedings. The defendant admitted to having thrown rocks on one occasion, and he identified himself in a photograph taken by a soldier. The prosecutor bases the detention on a decision by the Military Appeals Court stipulating that a person charged with throwing rocks shall be detained until the conclusion of the proceedings. She adds that throwing stones has reached epidemic proportions in the area, since "every Friday we hear of demonstrations near Ni'lin".

The defense requests the right to examine the material since the file is incomplete. The defendant was interrogated by the GSS, but there is no documentation of the interrogation.

Secondly, there is no definite identification of the defendant in the picture mentioned by the prosecution, and this is the only basis for the allegation of rock throwing... If indeed he hurled rocks, it was against the separation wall, not at passing vehicles or soldiers, who were 400 meters away. Thus, his acts do not conform to the decision of the Court of Appeals cited by the prosecutor. Moreover, the defendant is mentally retarded; he was referred to psychiatric evaluation, which determined that he needed to be under the Prison Service supervision. He does not present a threat and should be released due to his psychological difficulties.

The defendant's brother requests permission to speak: I can vouch for my brother and I promise to keep him at home and make sure he does not participate in marches.... My brother is mentally handicapped; we had to send him to a special school in Ramallah...

I am willing to assume responsibility for him. If he ever takes part in demonstrations, you can put me in prison.

The judge, referring to the Court of Appeals' decision cited by the prosecution, reminds her that the Court of Appeals repeatedly stated that "each examination has to refer specifically and individually to the case at hand..."

The judge opines that in this case the defendant should be released "due to individual circumstances"... He would require special attention in prison. Also his behavior obviously suggests mental retardation, and his brother is willing to assume full responsibility for him.

The defendant is to be released under these conditions:

  • - 7500 shekels deposit
  • - Two guarantors, each vouching 10.000 shekels. One can be his brother.
  • - Every Friday between 8 AM and 4 PM [ the time of the demonstrations] the brother will take him to relatives in Nablus.
  • - Commitment to report to all future hearings of his case.

The question of bail will be checked on 8.9.09. [The brother told us that the family could not afford to pay such a sum.]

The prosecutor requests delay of the release by 72 hours to consider an appeal.

Judge's decision: Delay the release until Sunday, 6.9.09 at noon.

If the prosecution decides not to appeal, the defendant will be released.

The case is assigned for "arraignment session" on 1.10.09 before Judge Rivlin-Achai.