Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon sessions
We were detained at the entrance for 20 minutes and were allowed in only when most
Palestinians had been admitted.
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
There were 21 cases in the docket this morning, most of them memoranda and arraignments hearings.
There was a long session in the afternoon for the evidentiary trial of Ahmad Mahmoud Ali Al-Salibi,
Prosecutor: Captain Batya Pitrio
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Ahmad Al-Salibi, 16 years old, is released on bail. He was arrested at Beit Ummar on suspicion that together with others he threw rocks on Rte 60 and attacked a policeman. He does not admit the charges. (In the same incident a Palestinian student was shot and injured by a BP officer. In his defense, the officer claimed that he had been attacked while trying to arrest one of the rock throwers and that his life was in danger. The injured student’s trial is taking place these days at Ofer; he is accused of throwing rocks and attacking a policeman, Amir Sabarna.
[See previous reports on this case]
On 13.10.11 Ahmad Al-Salibi was interrogated at Hebron Police station by Sgt.-Major Sami Hamza, who today testifies for the prosecution in Salibi’s trial.
The defense conducts a meticulous cross-examination of the witness, exposing the faulty methods the interrogator had employed, in blatant contravention of all laws and regulations. Apparently, Sami Hamza used the same methods on other detainees who took part in the incident.
The defense attorney cites passages from transcripts of interrogations he had examined. Hamza did not warn the suspect that he might “incriminate himself”. He did not remind him of his right to remain silent, nor did he explain that whatever he said might be used against him.
The interrogator – who claims to be a qualified juvenile officer – did not comply with the requirement to have the parents present in a minor’s interrogation. He did not inform the family about the investigation and about the fact that it was conducted at the police station in Hebron.
In the video of the interrogation (parts of which were read in court) you could clearly hear how Interrogator Hamza tries to trip the detainee (for example: even though there is no factual information, the interrogator tells the detainee that the police has a video showing how he – the accused – attacks the soldier); similarly, Hamza tries to put words in the mouth of the accused. The defense claims that there are tendentious inaccuracies in the translation from Arabic (the language used in the interrogation) into Hebrew (the language in which the statement was written). Those inaccuracies are always detrimental to the accused. The main question the defense raises about the interrogation is: How did the interrogator know what to ask?? The soldiers who testified about the incident did not identify the accused and did not mention him specifically. It turned out that only four days after the interrogation did intelligence regarding Al-Salibi surface. He and other suspects arrested a few hours after the incident were interrogated without any evidence or information.
In the next hearing another witness will testify for the prosecution and the defense will present its arguments. It is set for 26.2.12 at 13:30.
From 10:30 until after 15:00 the court heard testimonies in the trial of Bassem Muhammad Abed Alrahma Tamimi, ID 959225640 - Case No. 2058/11
(See earlier reports on this trial)
Bassam’s wife and young son are present in court, as well as some of his usual supporters, plus a journalist and a photographer.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Yitzhak Shilo, head of the unit that interrogated Islam Dar Ayyoub Tamimi (Bassam’s incriminator) testified for the prosecution.
(See earlier reports of the pre-trial regarding Islam’s case).
In cross-examination, the witness describes the interrogation as routine, in accordance with interrogations of Palestinians accused of disturbing the peace that are conducted at the Judea-Samaria Central Unit (the Binyamin Police Station does not have the means to tackle such disturbances, which cause the IDF serious damage. Local stations lack the skilled crews to interrogate and record, as well as proper facilities).
The defense tries to show that the interrogation of rock throwing kids is aimed at exposing the leaders and inciters behind them, to catch the “big fish”. For this purpose a slew of interrogators are recruited, in addition to the one or two qualified to interrogate juveniles. Those interrogations take longer than usual and use sophisticated equipment.
The witness confirms that the interrogation was conducted specifically to help solve the problem of disturbances at Nabi Saleh, but he rejects the attorney’s contention that the interrogation he conducted intentionally broke the law governing juvenile interrogation with a view to ferreting out the organizers.
A Side Story
A woman accompanied by her Hebrew speaking husband (who serves as her translator) is waiting in the court for the conclusion of Bassem Tamimi’s trial.
She is released on 1000 -shekel bail having been summoned to court upon her arrest at Meitar checkpoint 6 months ago. She is charged with “violating the injunction regarding enclosed areas”. In plain language: She is a Palestinian who does not have a permit to enter Israel. She admits that when she came back from visiting her sick father in Bethlehem, soldiers checked the passengers of the car and discovered her. Charges were brought against her (Case 2577/11).
The woman has been living with her husband and children for 25 years, but all her requests for entry permits have been denied.
She has no attorney and denies the charges. Justice Adar explains that the woman has a choice: plea bargain that can be arranged with the prosecution on the spot, or an evidentiary trial. Prosecutor Michael Avian made himself available right away, suggested conditions for a bargain, the judge accepted, and the state coffers were enriched by 500 shekels, to be deducted from the deposit the woman had posted.
The judge also approved a one month suspended sentence for a year.