Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
As you all know, we cover only a minute number of hearings of the military courts and only a tiny fraction of the proceedings are revealed to us. And yet, over the last six years, we have noted a few salient characteristics of the conduct and the activity of the arm of the occupation known as the “Military Court”. Today, for example, the hearings were a veritable ‘conveyor belt’; all the detainees in the cases we witnessed were arrested after being incriminated by others, and the charges were violations committed in the last few days as well as the last few months or even years.
A joint docket of Courtrooms 1 and 2 included 65 names of “Days Detainees” brought in for remand extensions. Some were minors (reportedly kids under 12 years old - which is the age of criminal culpability – whose hearings we did not attend). Those detainees were brought before the judge for the first time since their arrest.
In Courtroom 3 a ‘reserves duty’ judge (probably due to the holiday) named Wolf presided.
Two defendants were charged with drug dealing. They were represented by two attorneys: Abu Ahmad and Abir Merar. The discussion was about the quality and quantity of the pills purchased and hidden (it was alleged) in the underwear of one of them, and discovered at the checkpoint. It was not clear to the judge, the prosecutor and the defense if the pills in question were Viagra or Ecstasy. The only thing that was clear was that the two were detained “until the conclusion of the proceedings”.
Since we did not attend the entire sessions we are not sure why this case was processed in a military court.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Shmuel Kadmani
Prosecutor: Capt. Avishai Kaplan
Waspi Nafez Oda Zeita,ID 949959977 –Case 2397/13
Accused of carrying a weapon in the year 2011.
Waspi accepts the charges and Atty. Haled Alaraj reaches a plea bargain with the prosecution. The judge accepts it and pronounces his decision:
31 days in prison from the day of arrest, 3 months suspended sentence for 3 years (to ensure that he does not repeat the offense or any other offense relating to arms possession), a 7000 shekel fine or 7 months incarceration.
The agreement (approved by the judge without hesitation) states that Waspi has no prior conviction; for a brief period he held a gun belonging to the Palestinian Authority, making no use of it. He showed the gun to someone. Admission of guilt was a condition for obtaining a plea bargain, but the charge lacked sufficient evidence to convict!
It is a vain hope that one of these days a judge will pause to consider one of these hundreds of plea-bargains and determine that it is a trumped up arrest. There is no such term as “trumped up arrest” in the lexicon of the military courts.
Ahmad Salim Taher Ziud,ID 993177864 –Case 2439/13
Ziud was arrested on Friday at a Checkpoint.
The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation. The defendant states that a checkpoint policeman had told him he did not need a check-up because he is over 55. When he entered the checkpoint he was arrested. Atty Abu Yakoub requests a 6-day postponement to reach an agreement with the prosecution. The judge approves (until 2.4.13).
Bahaa Issa Muhamad Bashar,ID 854839628 –Case 2392/13
The detainee, 18 years old, is accused of throwing rocks at security forces, together with 20 other people. He was implicated by three soldiers who were on the spot. The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation, invoking endangerment and the fact that another participant in the incident was detained by the court until the conclusion of the investigation.
Bahaa rejects the allegations. He claims not to know why he is detained.
His attorney, Nasser Nubani, explains that Bahaa was on his way home from work when he encountered a demonstration near his home. He was present there without throwing any stones, he has no prior convictions, and the soldiers’ testimony is prima facie evidence.
The judge decides to detain him until the conclusion of the investigation.
Arraignment date set for 2.4.13.
Judge: Major Avri Einhorn
Two plain cloth investigators bring in the suspect, Alaa Muhammad Ahsa Hadr, ID 402195853 for remand extension.
Alaa, 16 years old, has already been detained for 4 days but has not been interrogated.
The charge is throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and involvement in shooting.
The investigators request 15 days remand.
Atty. Munther Abu Ahmad states that Alaa is a minor and that until his court appearance he has not been given a reason for his detention. The investigators’ answers reveal that the charges are based on incriminations, some by other detainees. The charges refer to incidents in the recent as well as in the distant past that took place at different locations on Route 443 as well as in his village. The defense moves for reduced detention and asks for judicial supervision of the investigators.
The judge orders 15 days remand (until 7.4.13). At the defense’ request the judge orders the detainee held in the court compound until 15:00 to allow him to appeal the court’s remand decision.