Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Criminal Offence

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Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky (reporting)


Translation: Marganit W. 


- It took us 40 minutes to enter the court compound, even though the place looked deserted. There were no Palestinians waiting in the huts. Later, two or three Palestinians arrived together with a couple of lawyers. But we were not admitted. The invisible entity behind the glass window, the one operating the gatesinfo-icon and the boisterous loudspeakers, bawled us out rudely whenever we asked to be let in.

We were treated equally rudely at the security check-up. The officer manning the Magnometer took out every item in my transparent plastic bag and rifled through my papers, spreading them on the desk and inquiring what was in them and why I keep them. He instructed the (female) security officer to conduct the physical examination “thoroughly,” which she did promptly, shaking every tissue in my pockets.


Courtroom 1

Evidentiary hearing of Muhammad Halil Salman Melihat,ID 942852351-

Case No. 2018/11

Major Amir Dahan headed a three judges panel, flanked by Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai and Major Etty Adar.


The defendant’s mother and wife (?) sat in the audience, but both refused to answer our questions. They told Hava that they were Beduins but nothing else.

The defendant has been in jail for almost a year and a half. He was arrested a few days after a burglary had occurred in the settlement of Vered Yeriho on 27.2.11. The burglar escaped. The defendant is charged with breaking in and stealing (perhaps other violations as well – we did not read the indictment).

There have been several hearings in this case, and several postponements due to the attorney’s illness and other constraints of the court.

A witness for the prosecution, Yaniv Ben Zaken, testified. He’s the owner of the house and he is the one who called the police and pressed charges. He identified the burglar in a photo presented to him at the police station. Now in court he identifies the defendant as the burglar who broke into his house and then escaped through the barbed wire that surrounds the settlement.

In response to the prosecution, the witness described the events of the night of the burglary, the chase of the thief and the police interrogation. The witness answered confidently, providing dramatic details of the trauma he and his young children suffered that night, an ordeal he would never forget for as long as he lives.

In cross-examination, the defense attorney, Feierberg (?) an elderly, unhurried man, focused on the issue of identification. Was the area sufficiently lit to enable the witness to identify the burglar? Who was present at the police station when he was asked to identify the photo (Perhaps it was the policeman who pointed to the picture?) As for the claim that the witness was injured during the chase – did he see a doctor? Did he give blood sample? Can he prove he was injured? Did he request a new ID card and driver’s license to replace the stolen ones?

The witness could not produce those documents.

The attorney complained to the court about being treated discourteously and about the witness’s outbursts that were not restrained by the court.

The judge apologized.

At the end of the cross-examination, the witness was asked about his profession: he conducts workshops on juvenile delinquency. The court assessed the loss he had suffered by coming to court to testify and awarded him 800 shekels compensation.

The next evidentiary hearing was set for 12.7.12 at 13:30.