Ofer - Stone Throwing, Interrogation of Witness

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Hagit Shlonsky, Mili Mass (reporting)


Translation: Marganit W.


We came specifically to attend the trial of Zeyn Hashem Halil Abu Maria (See Hagit’s report). The hearing was set for 9:30.


We were at the parking lot outside the court at 9:05 and phoned Hamdan [public liaison officer] explaining that we were there to attend the 9:30 session. We were the only ones in the visitors’ line, so we asked not to be detained.

At 9:25 we called again. He said that there were many families of detaineesinfo-icon. This was true, but we were the only visitors.

At 9:35 six visitors arrived to attend the trial of the killing of Palmer and his son. Their representative, Yehudit, was immediately allowed to get in and was warmly greeted by the unseen figure behind the dark glass. Apparently she deposited the ID cards of all six visitors. At this point we, too, were called in to deposit our IDs and get a number, but we were told to go back and wait behind the gate (this is a new procedure which we had never encountered before). The Palmers, in the meantime, were summoned by name to go through security, while we still waited.

At 9:55 we were finally summoned and told to wait in front of the iron door leading to the security check area. A few of the Palmers were waiting there, and soon there was a crowd in front of the iron door. The Palmers were called by names and admitted, then the families of the Palestinian detainees who came to attend their loved one’s hearings.

At 10:10 our turn finally came to go through security. We arrived at the courtroom at 10:20, having waited an hour and a quarter.


Justice Shahar Greenberg’s Court

Since the hearing did not start on time, the delay did not prevent us from attending the entire hearing. The hearing was preceded by two short memorandum hearings of two boys charged with participating in throwing objects at the same incident that Zeyn Abu Maria was involved in.


Bassel Ali Hassan Abu Maria, ID 859597908 -Case 1991/12

Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agnihu

Defense: Atty. Samarra

The defense requested to summon witnesses for the prosecution, so he could interrogate them. The next hearing was set for three weeks from today (9.1.13).


Muneer Naim Hamed,ID 401360185 -Case 4304/12

Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agnihu

Defense: Atty. Samarra

The court waited for the families to come in. At the request of Atty. Smarra, the next hearing was set for two weeks from today (2.1.13).


Zeyn Hashem Halil Abu Maria, ID 854841111 -Case 1989/12

Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agnihu

Defense: Nery Ramati

Here is my summery of the hearing:


The prosecution calls Witness No. 10, Sgt. First Class Moshe Kapiloto. Until two years ago he was in charge of informers in the Hebron and Bethlehem area.

From the prosecutor’s examination it transpires that the witness was not in the country when the incident in question was investigated. Documents confirming this had been presented at a previous hearing. The defense had no questions for the witness. It is not clear why this witness was summoned; it is clear however that his presence only prolonged the legal process. The witness himself complained that reporting to court caused him to lose a full day’s work. And yet, in his short testimony Kapiloto denied that he had used force during the interrogations, and wondered who instructed the detainees to repeat the allegation that the interrogators use violent means.


The prosecution calls Witness No. 11, Captain Motti Ohana. He was the initial interviewer in the case (apparently there is a preliminary interview before the interrogation, which does not require documentation or taping (unlike the interrogation itself).

The prosecutor asked the witness about the claim by Bassel Abu Maria, Sami Juda and Saed Zalibi (the alleged collaborators and incriminators of the defendant) that they were treated with violence and were blindfolded during the interrogation, measures that the prosecutor called “unusual” (??? MM) The witness denied that there was anything unusual during the interrogation, or else he would have reported it (Sure! MM) He, too, claimed that someone must have instructed the defendants to lodge such a complaint, adding that 9 months had passed since the interrogation and only now do they complain, so it must have been coordinated in jail. He also rejected Sami Juda’s complaint that he was not told that he had a right to remain silent. The witness said that after 9 months he no longer remembers what the boys look like (a claim he later repeats during Atty. Ramati’s cross- examination).

In his cross-examination, Atty. Ramati focused on Sami Joda and Bassel Abu Maria’s interviews since they were the ones who fingered Zeyn Abu Maria. The witness explained that his job is to find out if a detainee had taken part in an incident, and if so, the detainee is further interrogated. It turns out that the interview was conducted before 6:15 AM, which is when the documented interrogation began. (We must conclude that the boys were roused from their beds before dawn).


The defense cited a document from 15.3.12 stating that the boys had complained about the use of force during the interrogation (so the claim that for 9 month they kept mum about it is false).

The witness denied that he had known that the detainees were minors, though he had to be informed. He is not authorized to interrogate minors, but since there was no qualified person to do so, he was authorized to interview the boys. He claimed that the boys were informed about their rights both in writing and orally, but the defense showed that no statement regarding the right to remain silent is included in the written version. The witness reiterated that after ten months he no longer remembers details (such as that he had videos of the incident). He denied instructing the interrogator to tell Sami that Saed had already incriminated himself, but then a segment of the recording was played where the witness was heard telling the interrogator: “This is Sami and this is Saed, now all that’s left is Zeyn.” The witness could not deny this. The interrogator is heard on the tape saying, “You have already incriminated yourself, so just give us the name” (Zeyn’s presumably).


Evidentiary hearing was set for 8.1.12 at 9:30.

For the next hearing the prosecution summoned only one witness (whose function is not clear). That witness’s whereabouts are not known. The defense moves to summon the supplier of intelligence, since up to now his identity has been concealed. The defense suggested he testify behind a screen, but the prosecution objected to this solution.