Ofer - Remand Extension, Minors
Translation: Diana Rubanenko
Much has been written, in our reports and elsewhere, about the show called a 'military court', but each time we attend, the feelings of shock, anger, and grief resurface.
We entered Courtroom 7, where requests for remand extensions are heard.
In the dock were six minors (there are usually four) all looking utterly bewildered. The attorney was trying to extract information from them and give them some details - it was abundantly clear that he had never met them before. At the end of the courtroom were a few relatives, making attempts amidst the confusion at communicating with the detainees. The prosecutor, Tsahi Unger, a reservist, was arranging the pile of files in front of him. The interpreter made no effort to perform his role, i.e. interpret, and was busy updating the list of hearings in front of him, then went out to try and call the family members.
There were 55 cases in the day's docket! In proper procedure, a remand extension application should list the allegations, report on the number of investigation sessions performed, and the number of further actions - noting the time required. The defence counsel should be able to ask the prosecutor all those questions, and often also suggest an alternative to detention. The judge is required to study the case, listen to the parties' arguments and then decide. Formally, that process actually takes place, but at the rate of a speeded-up movie, so it can be recorded in the statistics of the legal proceedings.
The attorneys are seeking a postponement, to allow them to learn something more about the case. The prosecutor willingly accepts, and the judge concurs. Although there was one occasion when Justice Menashe Wachnish rebuked a prosecutor for having arrived unprepared - how could a case be submitted in that way? - it changed little about the hearing.
And only the relatives watch their loved ones longingly, occasionally wiping away a tear. Next time they'll again set out from home at dawn, to reach the court early in the morning and wait hours for a few precious minutes when they'll be allowed to see the detainees.