Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Holding and trading of combat materiel, Remand Extension

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Tova Szeintukh, Roni Hammermann (reporting)

Russian Compound

Judge: Shmuel Fleishman

Police interrogator: Moshe Levi

Lawyers:  Ma'amun Hashin and Abu Ahmed Munzer


Ahmed Razek Mahmud Issa, ID 85197732   

Muhammad Saleh Muhammad Bader, ID 852478940, prohibited from meeting a lawyer.

 The remand extension hearing of today exemplified again what it means for Palestinian civilians to be judged by a military Court. The former IDF military advocate General Avichai Mandelblit expressed recently his conviction that it was wrong that a military court should judge civilians. He, of course, referred to the settlers, while completely ignoring the fact that in the reality of the occupation, for years and years Palestinian civilians are being judged by military courts.

 An Israeli military judge can not be entirely neutral towards a Palestinian civilian, whom, in his capacity of an Israeli officer, he regards as belonging to a hostile population. The language of the court is Hebrew, which is not understood by the majority of the suspects, and the translation is done by a IDF soldier, who was trained briefly in court language, and whose competence is questionable. There are no relatives of the suspects in the court room who could give the suspects some reassurance, because the Russian Compound is located in the middle of Jerusalem, and Palestinians from the West Bank cannot get a permit to enter Jerusalem. 

 Suspect Bader was serving a 2 year sentence and was arrested from prison on 28.12.11 and charged with membership in an unlawful association. Since the morning of 9.1.12 he is prohibited by the General Secret Service from seeing his lawyer. He stands alone, without legal protection, in front of a hostile police investigator, while the judge who has insight into the confidential material attempts to separate the fighting sides: the police interrogator, who does not want to release information and the defence lawyer, who tries desperately, like a blind man, to find nevertheless his way and to detect some small pieces of information. The contest between them is conducted in high tones and loud voices and by and by the courtroom turns into a market place. The police asks for 15 days of remand extension. The judge agrees to 12 days.

 But also in the case of the suspect who is allowed to see his lawyer, a great deal of information of the interrogation is hidden in the files that contain confidential material, so that the defence lawyer has to feel his way through the labyrinth of the case of his client. The relevant information is usually to be found in the "secret file".  

Advocate Ma'amun Hashin exclaimed after an unsuccessful attempt to find out if his client was on hunger-strike: "my hands are bound like the hands of my client".

 Suspect Ahmed Issa was arrested on 5.12.11 and has, after 5 remand extensions and countless interrogations, not confessed. He is suspected of dealing with arms. The police cannot provide evidence, but asks for another 15 days of remand extension. The judge agreed to 12 days.

 The impression of the observer is that the Palestinians have no real chance in the military court to achieve justice. This impression is corroborated by findings of a Yesh Din report from 2007, that only 0.3% of the defendants were found to be entirely not guilty.