Ofer - Suspended Sentence, Popular Struggle

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Observers: 
Norah Orlow (reporting)
Oct-31-2012
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Afternoon

Morning and Afternoon sessions

 

Translation: Marganit W.

 

Indictment and discussion of alternative to detention in the case of

Bassem Muhammad Abed Alrahman Tamimi, ID 959225640 – Case 4455/12.

Tamimi is a resident of Nabi Saleh. He is one of the central leaders of the popular struggle against the occupation and against the confiscation of Palestinian lands effected by the building of a separation wall; thus, he is a constant irritant to the state that would rather put him in jail than let him be active outside.

We have attended all the hearings in his previous case until his release in April this year. Bassem spent13 months in jail, and his sentence included a 17-months suspended sentence, in case he repeats the violation of “disturbance of the public peace.”

And now it happened. On 24.10.12 a demonstration of Palestinian (and foreign) activists took place at Rami Levi franchise at the industrial park of Shaar Binyamin (South of Ramallah - on Rte. 60 - about a kilometer from the Adam colony). The protesters called for a boycott of products from the area (in occupied territories).

During the demonstration, the police arrested Bassam’s wife, Nariman. He tried to free her, and as a result was arrested and charged, among others, with attacking a policeman.

[See report by Amnesty International]

 

Judge: Major Meir Vigiser

Prosecutor: Captain Ashhar Erez

Defense: Gaby Lasky, Nery Ramati

 

Charges: disturbing the peace

                attacking a policeman

                participation in an illegal demonstration

 

The hearing did not begin until 15:20. The large crowd that came to attend the hearing had to wait since morning; among them were Bassam’s wife, many activists and MK Dov Khenin.

 

The military prosecutor requested a remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings, invoking “endangerment” on the part of the defendant. He further claimed that Tamimi was kept in jail (while three others were released) “partly because of the suspended sentence: Had he not attacked a policeman, he would not have been arrested.”

The defense argued that the only proof in this case (which is the basis for the charge) is a report by Inspector Benny Malka, which clearly contradicts a film recording the incident. The film shows how other activists release Bassam’s wife, while Inspector Malka applies unreasonable force against Bassam and strangles him, as the latter tries to extricate himself. Nowhere is Bassam seen hitting Malka on his hand. Malka is also seen punching the face of one of the other activists, who tried to intervene.

Attorney Lasky argued that “a putative attack on a policeman, a demonstration and a suspended sentence for violent behavior do not add up to “endangerment.” She cited two cases in which the defendants were not sent to prison until the conclusion of the proceedings, but were instead released: one is Noam Federman, who “despite allegations and suspicion of attacking a policeman under aggravated circumstances on Temple Mount… was not even brought for remand hearing, but was immediately released, despite Federman’s long list of prior convinctions…”

The other example was that of Baruch Marzel, “who has 27 prior convictions, all involving  riots, public disturbances and attacks on police… and yet the court saw fit to release him under certain conditions…”

The court then watched a film presented by the defense in which the demonstrators are seen on the shoulder of Rte. 60, not on it, proving that they were not blocking the road, hence there was no reason to arrest Nariman Tamimi and others.

 

The judge deferred his decision regarding alternative detention (house arrest) and set a hearing for Thursday, 1.11.12 at 11 AM.

[See attached protocol - Hebrew]

 

The next day, at the request of the judge, 2 guarantors (with Israeli IDs) appeared before the court, with a couple of the defendant’s aunt and uncle who were willing to house Tamimi in their home. Each of them was interrogated separately, and they had to describe the conditions they were offering for the “house arrest”. Their home is located 500 meters from the defendant’s house; they have both line and mobile phones, and they were willing to notify the police in case the defendant ran away…

In his decision, the judge cited the Military Court of Appeals: “the soldiers and policemen who man the checkpoints carry out a difficult and important task… whoever disobeys their orders or acts violently, threatens security…”

However, the judge saw fit to mention that Bassam Tamimi’s case is “unique”: although he participated in an unlawful demonstration, apparently his aim was not to physically confront the police … Obviously, the violence he showed was not particularly severe… he attacked the policeman in the heat of the moment, as a protest against his wife’s arrest…this is not uncontrollable violence…

The judge also mentioned the fact that the defendant reported to court after his release on bail (in his previous case). Thus, the judge decided to release Bassam Tamimi to house arrest at his uncles’ home, in addition to a 20,000 shekel deposit and a third party guarantee of 20,000 shekels by two Israeli guarantors.

An arraignment hearing was set for Wednesday, 6.11.12 at 10:00.

[see attached protocol – Hebrew]

 

This was the judge’s considerate ruling. However, the military prosecutor, in a knee-jerk reaction and as is common in these circumstances, got up and requested 72 hours postponement to allow the prosecution to appeal the ruling.

 

In the meantime, Bassam and Nariman’s 16 year old son was also arrested at a demonstration last Friday. He is held at Ofer detention center (separate from his father).

His lawyers (Gaby Lasky and Nery Ramati) have appealed the arrest and he may be released today, 5.11.12.