Ofer - Holding and trading of combat materiel
Translation: Marganit W.
In the small hall called Courtroom, justice Major Shlomo Katz is trying to maintain order, sometimes peremptorily, sometimes jokingly (several times he called the huddling around his desk ‘unlawful assembly’). He tells the attorneys that he is strict when it comes to guarding detainees’ rights. When a detainee was brought before him without an attorney, he asked him in Arabic if he wanted one. When the man said yes, he informed the prosecutor (who requested remand until the conclusion of proceedings) that the detainee’s rights must not be violated and that he should be allowed to phone his family. The judge wanted to postpone the hearing until tomorrow, but then he remembered that it was Friday so no attorney could be procured. In the end he urged speeding up the process with the help of the Court’s officer. Atty. Munther Abu Ahmad, who was present in court, was appointed defense.
Thus, the rights were perhaps observed, but the hearing was postponed until Sunday, after three more days in prison.
While I was in court no family member was present (except in the last case, described later) but the judge did not address this aspect at all.
Judge: Major Shlomo Katz
Prosecutor: Captain Asher Silver
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Defendant: Muhammad Razak Yussuf Sadaka - ID 998389977
The case was at the stage of arguments for penalty.
Muhammad Sadaka had already been convicted on security violation, sentenced for 14 years, plus 5 year suspended sentence (of which he served a few years). In 2009 his sentence was commuted (according to Atty. Labib this was part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority). Now Sadaka has already been in jail for 30 months charged with buying 4000 bullets and trying to sell them.
The prosecutor moves to cancel the commutation, arguing that the defendant should serve the full sentence due to the additional violation and the suspended sentence from the earlier trial.
The defense explains that the purchase of the bullets does not imply intent to use them. The learned attorney presents the court with a novel approach: he asks the court to invalidate the conviction, declare that indeed defendant committed the crime, then mete punishment, but with no conviction entered in his record.
Atty. Labib later explains to me that in certain cases the judge has authority to mete a punishment without conviction. This is done in cases when the court does not want to leave a stain on the defendant’s record. Punishment without conviction does not exist in the military courts.
The defense cites decision by Justice Fleischman stating that the law and the principles of justice demand that soldiers, too, should enjoy the possibility of punishment without conviction.
Thereupon the judge declares that this is a novel approach and he cannot hand down a decision today.
The prosecutor is outraged by the defense’s suggestion and by the fact that the judge did not reject it out of hand. He requests a break to discuss the case with his colleagues.
After a break the prosecutor states that the court has neither the authority nor the means to accede to the defense’s request.
During the lengthy break, Atty. Labib left the court and no date was set for the resumption of the hearing.