Ofer - Plea Bargain, Remand Extension

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Hava Halevi, Milli Mass

General note: Again, we found no dockets. Only after our request did we receive the lists from the interpreter.

Upon our arrival at 10 AM we encountered a man who told us he had come to retrieve his bail money, following his acquittal. He had been there since 8:30. When we left the court at 12, he was still there. The officer said, “Just because he’s been waiting for a long time doesn’t mean he can get his money back right away (but when he was enjoined to deposit the money, it had to be right away.) The man was sent someplace (we could not hear the name) and left the compound with us, after four hours and without the money.


Justice Shmuel Fleischman’s court

In most cases the prosecution requested a deferment.

During the discussion Atty. Ilya Theodory asked the judge why he was not providing the defendants with the protocols of the hearings of their cases. In reply the judge asked: What do the defendants need the protocols for? Atty. Theodory insisted the protocols be given to the defendants so they can study them in prison, consulting other prisoners, some of whom are lawyers.


Jihad Nabil Jamil Alza’abaneh – Case no. 3176/11

Accused of leaving the area without a permit.

Defense attorney Issam Mrar seeks a plea bargain. The defendant has been in jail for two months. He accepts the charges but refuses to strike a bargain. He does not want to be represented by Atty. Mrar.

The judge tells the defendant that he has no choice. “This is not ‘At Your Request ‘program” (his exact words). The court nominates a judge from a given list and the defendant has a choice to be represented by that attorney or not to be represented at all. [Is this the procedure inside Israel as well?] The judge further explains the advantages of this arrangement. When a defendant admits his guilt, the penalty is reduced; this mitigation will not prevail if he insists on an evidentiary trial. The defendant insists on a trial.

The hearing is set for next week, 17.8.11


Later we attended the trial of Farid Muafek Farid Za’abaneh – ID. 911530756. He, too, is accused of leaving the area without a permit and also of “damaging the fence.” Atty. Mrar was appointed by the court to represent him.

Prosecutor Jenny Lubovsky tells the court that on four occasions the defendant entered Israel illegally, once through the fence. Such violations, she claims, are very burdensome for the security forces. In the last few years, this has become a major concern for the army. The damage to an army installation is in itself reason for a harsh sentence. We soon found out what damage Farid Za’baneh had caused. He had jumped over the fence and was captured at A-zaim checkpoint. This is the reason that the prosecution demands a stiff punishment.

Defense: The defendant admitted right away that he had entered Israel several times without a permit. Thus he saved the court precious time. He is getting married next month, and the wedding has already been postponed because of his arrest. He has no criminal record; he works in construction and has 6 brothers whom he helps to support. He’s been in jail for almost 2 months. This period should suffice and the court should take into consideration his economic situation.

The judge asked the defendant a few questions:

Q: Why did you enter Israel?

A: I want to work.

Q: Tell me about yourself, your parents, your siblings.

A: My father has diabetes. I went to school for 8 years. Two of my brothers are married.

Q: Does your mother work?

A. Yes. (it is not clear he understood that the judge asked if she is  ‘gainfully employed’)

Q: You understand that you are getting a suspended sentence, and if you are caught again, you will be sent to prison for a longer period. How can I make sure you don’t enter Israel illegally again?

A: I learned my lesson.

Decision: Taking into account several considerations and the defendant’s personal circumstances: 70 days in jail, starting with his arrest (60 of them he already spent in detention), 6 month probation and 2000 shekels fine or a month in jail.


Yussuf Mussa Yussuf Hawasha – ID. 941810558– case no. 3803/11

Remand extension.

Prosecutor: Jenny Lubovsky

Defense: Mahmud Hassan (from A-Damir organization)

Hawasha, a resident of Bir-Zeit, is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful association. Since the end of 2009 until his arrest – or thereabout – he was a member or an operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He organized their parades.

He was arrested after being incriminated by Walid Habas who identified him in a photo and claimed that he saw him at a meeting in 2009. They used to meet every other week to discuss the political situation.

The defense asks to postpone the hearing so he can study the GSS report before the next hearing.

Here is a précis of the previous hearing that took place on 2.8.11.

The defense finds holes in the testimony. The witness knows the defendant as Abu-Yaffa and gave no other identifying details. He did identify him in a photo, but the question is: how did the interrogator get a picture of the defendant while the latter denies knowing his incriminator. The investigators should have confronted the two in order to substantiate the claim. The fact that they did not confront them proves that the investigators were not trying to find the truth.

The trial will continue on 14.9.11