Ofer - Stone Throwing, Remand Extension

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Mili Mass, Hava Halevi (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

We came to observe the trial of Mahmoud Waja Muhammad Tamimi, 14 years old from Nabi Salah, detained since 12.4.11.

Hava Halevi's Report:

Courtroom 2
Judge: Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
Defense: Atty. Akram Samara

As usual, a bureaucratic mess: no dockets to be found anywhere. The interpreter we approached claimed he had posted the lists earlier and promised to give us copies. He did not; hence we have no ID numbers.
At any given moment, three or four attorneys were talking to the judge. Files were brought in, detaineesinfo-icon came in, in pairs or triplets, handcuffed together; they left the court without our being able to follow the cases.
Interpreters walked in and out, as did security guards and GSS officers, and family members who always sit in the last row conversed with the detainees during breaks and hearings.

Occasionally, the interpreter translated some phrases…

Mahmud Tamimi is a small, fair skinned boy who is accused of throwing rocks. His hearing was no different: Atty. Samara spoke with the judge and with the prosecutor, who at the same time spoke with several other attorneys. After a few minutes, he left with a document presumably setting a new date for the hearing.

Atty. Samara also represented Firas Halil Yussuf  Badran, age 20, from Qalandiya
Refugee Camp, who is accused of possessing combat materiel and weapons. He was in detention for 17 months, released 2 months ago, then arrested again. The attorney told us that his client was clearly seen on a cassette holding a Molotov cocktail.

The verdict reflected the self-righteousness and paternalistic attitude of the judge. She imposed 10 months of jail time, 8 of them suspended sentence for a prior conviction, plus 18 months suspended sentence for 5 years, 3 months suspended sentence for entering
Israel illegally and a 2000 shekel fine or 2 month in jail.

Here is what she said:
In the previous sentence the court showed consideration, but the defendant did not use this opportunity (opportunity for what? Was he offered a scholarship to an elite university?) and repeated the offense. He is older than his partners in crime. The others admitted their guilt and showed remorse, whereas he did not assume responsibility (i.e., admit guilt).
Atty. Samara queried the father's claim that his son owns an oven near the checkpoint, and that's why he was captured nearby; the son was caught on camerainfo-icon. The attorney agreed with the judge's reckoning of the penalty.

Salah Hamamra Mehusan, 18.5 years old, accused of throwing objects.
Defense: Atty. Akram Samara.
Salah was arrested a week ago. Friends of the family, not his parents, are present in court.
We asked why the parents were not there and were told that there is a hearing every week and they cannot come each time. This is strange considering Salah was arrested only a week ago and this is the first hearing in his case.
The hearing is rescheduled for 25.7.11.

Courtroom 3
Judge: Meir Lakhan
Prosecutor: Lieut. Mughira Sarhan
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati

Muhammad Ahmed Ganimat, ID. 852724624
Charge: attacking a policeman
The prosecution requests extending the detention by 3 days to prepare the charge sheet.
The case involves a demonstration in the settlement of Karmei Zur. The army declared the area a closed military zone, but Muhammad did not leave the area, even though he was aware of the injunction. He resisted arrest and the soldiers had to use 'reasonable force' to arrest him.

[In my experience, 'reasonable force' means brutal violence, but who defines
'reasonable force'? Reasonable according to whose definition?]
The defense requested alternative to detention, meaning releasing the man until his trial. The prosecution cites a precedent. The defense rejects the analogy between the two cases and cites another precedent.

But what is interesting is what happened during the demonstration. The defendant was
arrested together with two Swedish (female) activists, who were also charged with attacking an officer. One is claimed to have thrown the officer to the ground and kicked him. The court found her guilty of attacking an officer but deemed her not dangerous, and so she was not sent to jail. In our case the man took part in a demonstration protesting the
theft of the land of his village. He has no prior conviction, the attack
was not serious and there are alternatives to 'detention until the conclusion of the proceedings': he could be removed from the contested area and he could be ordered to report to the police on demonstration days (Saturday).
The defense added that the defendant's sister has leukemia and needs her brother to accompany her on a trip to Jordan for three days.
So what do have here? Two Swedish women and a Palestinian who participated in a demonstration against land grab. The Swedes were released - one on her own recognizance, the other at a Magistrate Court in Jerusalem, and Muhammad who in addition is accused of infringing on a closed military zone.
Decision: remand extension of 3 days to complete the indictment until 30.6.11.
The defense plans to appeal. It will be interesting to follow up.

Mili Mass's report:

Judge: Yair Nehorai
Defense: Tarek Bargout

Salah Abu Garbiya, age 27, was arrested 8 days ago accused of being an accomplice in the murder of two men (fathers) in Anata a year ago. The defendant's alibi is being investigated. A GSS interrogator claims the alibi is not credible: the witness who saw the defendant somewhere else at the time of the crime is accused of being an accomplice. The judge instructs the attorney not to try to disprove the prosecution's claim at this stage because the investigation is still on; he should elicit from the defendant the names of other witnesses who can support his claim. The defendant says he has already supplied the interrogators with many names, which they ignored. He mentions 4 more people who, he claims, saw him elsewhere at the time he is alleged to have been in Anata, supposedly
committing a murder.
The prosecution failed to supply a track record of phone calls required for checking an alibi. The prosecutor requests remand extension of 15 days to complete the investigation. A ten-day extension is agreed upon, to enable the investigators to check the witnesses supplied by the defendant and to present the phone records.
The discussion of the alibi will continue on 7.7.11 before a remand judge.

Atty. Haled Al Araj represented Ahmad Suleiman Abu Mafrah, age 19.
Charge: throwing rocks on two occasions: two years ago and a year ago.
As for the 2-year old charge, the defense says that the defendant was 17 years old at the time. Since then he has changed the course of his life. Detention will interrupt his training at a Police Academy in Egypt.

As for the one-year old charge, the defense claims that he was already residing in Egypt at the time.
It transpires that the defense is wrong, and that "a year ago" the defendant was still in Israel. But then, the attorney claims, he was studying for his matriculation exam and unlikely to participate in rock throwing.

Once again, the judge stepped out of his role of arbitrator (as is common in Israeli practice) and asked the prosecution to reconsider its position, adding that even though the charge is serious, "a year ago" is too imprecise. The charge refers to a rock throwing by a group of people, which makes it difficult to identify the defendant. In addition, the defendant has turned a new leaf, intending to become a law- abiding citizen. The judge urged the prosecution to reach an agreement, whereupon both sides left the court.
In a phone conversation later, Atty. Al Araj told me that no agreement had been struck with the prosecution. The two sides returned to the court, and the defense insisted that the defendant could not have participated in rock throwing a year ago because he was studying for his exams; he got excellent grades, which allowed him to enroll in the studies program he is in now.
The judge released the defendant.