Ofer - Stone Throwing, Shooting

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Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky, Norah Orlow (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

On 23.11.11 we reported on the hearing of Mustafa Muhammad Yusuf Odeh from the village of Wallaje – ID. 976862854 – who was arrested on 13.11.11  for allegedly attacking a policeman and for participating in an unlawful demonstration.

Justice Vigiser released the 50-year old man to partial house arrest. At the same time, the judge acceded to the prosecution’s request to halt Odeh’s release for 72 hours to allow the prosecution to submit an appeal.

The prosecution indeed appealed. The hearing took place on 7.12.11 before Justice Lieutenant-Colonel Nathaniel Benishu, who rescinded Justice Vigiser’s decision and ordered Odeh to remain in custody until the conclusion of the proceedings.

And so Mustafa Odeh’s trial began today - Case 5406/11

Judge: Sgt.-Major Ronen Atzmon

Prosecutor: Captain Odelia Kardoner

Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati

Earlier, the defendant had rejected a plea bargain, opting for a trial.

His mother was present in the court.

The defense stated that the accused denies all the allegations in the charge sheet. On the day in question he had come back from medical tests and happened to encounter a demonstration against the separation wall that is being built in around the village. During the riots, he and a soldier were pushed from a terrace and fell down. Soldiers immediately sprayed him with pepper spray and arrested him. A video shot by one of the protesters records the incident. The defense asked the court to watch the video during the first evidentiary hearing set for 19.12.11 at 13:30. Witnesses for the prosecution (soldiers) will also be summoned to the hearing through their commanders.


Courtroom 5

Judge: Major Meir Vigiser

Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan

Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati

Evidentiary Hearing.

Defendant: Amir Ibrahim Haled Sabarna – ID 852783190 – Case 5001/11

Resident of Beit Ummar, a 22-year old student

In custody since 12.10.11.

His mother and another relative are present in court.

The charge: throwing rocks at security forces and attacking a soldier.

On the day of his arrest there was a demonstration at Beit Ummar [or as the charge sheet calls it, “mass disturbances”] in which Amir took part. When a soldier tried to arrest him he resisted physically. When two other protesters joined in, the soldier took out his gun and shot Amir in the back, as he said “because he feared for his life.”

The wounded man was taken to hospital: one of his lungs was damaged by the shot. Three days later they began to interrogate him.

The prosecution summoned two witnesses.

Witness No. 1, Sgt.-Major Avi Ben-Lulu from Hebron Precinct – he took the defendant’s statement on 16.10.11.

The witness explained that since the accused was injured, he was not interrogated right away. At the Ofer detention facility he only took preliminary deposition so he could ask for remand extension. He interrogated the accused in Arabic, but wrote it down in Hebrew. Amir signed the statement after its content had been translated to him into Arabic. The recording machine malfunctioned so nothing was recorded. The file was transferred to Gush Etzion Police. This witness states that he was not in charge of the investigation, the police investigators at Gush Etzion were.

-Did you tell them “he claims that he was shot in the back?”

-I don’t remember what I said.


Witness No. 2: Sgt.-Major Motti Ohana [who ‘questioned’ the minor who incriminated Amir Sabarna]

The witness testified that he has been serving in the police for 21 years, in intelligence and detective work. For the last four years he has been employed as “questioner”.

In cross-examination the defense asks him to explain the term.

A. It means interrogating the suspect, before the investigation.

Q. What are the rules of “questioning” as distinct from interrogation? What about documentation?

A. After the initial questioning the suspect is transferred to an interrogator who records and documents the testimony in depth... The ‘questioners’ have more time… they save the interrogators’ time, in fact, they make the system more efficient.

Q. Before the investigation?

A. Before or after…Never during the investigation.

Q. You deposed him on 16.10.11, but the accused had already told his version on 13.10.11, so what was the point of the questioning? He had already been interrogated.

The witness explained that he has more time at his disposal than the interrogator.

Q. The accused started to confess right after his interrogation at the police… “The questioners beat me up” – Is the accused lying? Did you beat him up?

A. No way. We hear such complaints a lot lately.

Q. Had you recorded the interrogation, we could have checked the allegation.

A. I don’t agree. A liar is a liar.

Q. Is there a difference between questioning a minor and an adult?

A. With a minor you have to notify the parents.

Q. Are you a juvenile interrogator?

A. No…

Q. Did you follow the Juvenile Law?

A. As it is written…. But there’s a difference between questioning and interrogating.

Q. Does the Juvenile Law cover this? For instance, the fact that the parents have to be present?

A. This does not apply to Palestinians citizens. There has been an amendment in the last two months….

Q. How long did this questioning last?

A. Can’t say for sure… about half an hour.

Q. And this is what it yielded? Ten lines?


The attorney later stated that he was not familiar with the proceeding and had no knowledge of that document [produced by the ‘questioner’]. The (minor) witness should have been summoned and given a chance to give his version.

The judge decided that after hearing the (minor) witness, the court will rule as to the admissibility of the document.

The minor will be summoned to testify on 19.12. 11, together with other prosecution witnesses.

To be continued next week.