Ofer - Plea Bargain, Release on Bail

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Yoella Har-Shefi, Hagit Shlonsky (reporting)

Translation: Diana Rubanenko

This morning we were present in three courtrooms.

10:30:  Judge Naftali Shmuelevitz

We were attended the hearings of eight out of forty cases. In three of them, the discussion centred around the problem of identifying the suspect (when not all four names of the detainee are accurately given, use is made of the names of brothers, the father's occupation, testimonies about nicknames of the father or brothers, or known traits, such as a mute father...). The judge made of a point of asking each detainee about his condition. One attorney said that this judge also makes a point of never releasing a single detainee (quote). A date for future hearings was set for all the detaineesinfo-icon.

11:40: Judge Durani

Several cases are being postponed to a later date for various reasons.

One case was that of an accused man who had already spent fourteen months in detention and today withdrew his denial; after fourteen months in jail, he admitted and agreed to a plea bargain. Two charges were dropped from the indictment, leaving one charge: "membership and activity in an unlawful association". From mid-2007 until he was detained in April 2008, the defendant was holding a position in the students association (Jamiya al-Islamiya) at Bir-Zeit University. The defendant tells the judge: "I have finished my studies and am now at a new stage, and have stopped all activity..."

The sentence: 22 months imprisonment, of which some are "in connection with the offence that is the subject of this case" (membership in an unlawful association) and some related to the suspended sentence. In addition, a 24 months suspended sentence for a period of three years. And furthermore, a fine of NIS 3000.

12:00: Judge Lt.-Col. Shalom Meushar

In courtroom 7, we heard the hearings of the two last cases of the morning session.

-The accused denies the charge. The judge decides that the "level of incrimination does not justify his remand in custody...the accused has no criminal record, is married with two small children...he should be released on the following conditions:

A deposit of NIS 4000; a third-party guaranty in the amount of NIS 10,000; signing in at the Beit El police station every Sunday between 08:00 and 12:00 am.

The prosecutor asked for a 48-hour deferral [for an appeal] before implementing the release decision.

-The judge decides to release an accuse man on bail who admitted he had threatened police officers with a knife. The judge "accepted the prosecution's request, which very fairly requests his release on bail of NIS 6000, to ensure that he will appear for trial". The defense attorney asks to lower the bail, considering the accused's low income. He is an apprentice with a shoemaker and his monthly wage is NIS 700 (he appears slightly retarded). The judge asks the mother of the accused, present in the court, about the family's condition, and decides on bail of NIS 1500, and signing in once a week at the Hebron police-station. The accused is to be released the same day.