Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Women
Translation: Marganit W.
More on the Shabak methods of interrogation (Remember: Supreme Court decision from 1999 essentially sanctions torture)
Judge: Lieut. Colonel Zvi Heilbronn
Prosecutor: Lieut. Nathaniel Yacov Hai
Defense: Attys. Sahar Francis and Mahmoud Hassan
Defendant: Khalida Kanan Muhammad Jarrar, ID 946614138 - Case 3058/15
The main witness today is Ahmad Zaharan. He has been in prison for more than 8 years, and the prosecutor claims that the reason is his membership in the Popular Front. One proof – according to the prosecutor – is that in prison he was in the wing that houses members of the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine]. Let me explain, again, that it is the Prison Authority that decides where to place prisoners, thus determining their ‘political affiliation’.
Zahran explainedd he is not a religious man, and so objected to spending so much time in the company of religious people; so the Prison Authority decided that he belongs to the PFLP and assigned him accordingly.
Unlike previous hearings, this time the prosecutor presented a memorandum written by the Shabak [GSS] interrogator. Atty. Hassan objected to presenting the document without summoning the interrogator who wrote it. The judge, however, accepted the prosecutor’s claim that the memorandum serves only to “refresh” the witness’s memory.
Zaharan was soon declared a hostile witness: he claimed that what’s written in the memorandum were not his words.
Among other questions/statements advanced by the prosecutor was this one:
Who is Karima Zaharan? Answer: My wife.
It turns out that the army hauled Karima for interrogation. Ahmad was allowed to listen to the interrogation on the phone. He heard shouts, curses and blasphemy.
In cross-examination Atty. Hassan described the various interrogations. One interrogation lasted 85 days. Another, on 2.4.13, began at 13:30 and ended on 3.4. at 05:00 – i.e., lasting for 14 hours. The witness said he was tied to a chair the whole time. It was a small chair with a low back, and his hands were cuffed to the armrests, his feet to the legs of the chair. When finally allowed to go to the bathroom, he fainted. He woke up in a clinic, connected to an E.K.G. There were two doctors there, one gave him some medication that he said would help him. “I was tied to a chair. He put the pill in my mouth and gave me water. I did not see what it was.”
The defense again asked to summon the Shabak interrogators, wondering why so many hours of interrogation yielded only a few pages.
Again, the judge saw no reason to disallow the memorandum.
From the cross-examination it becomes clear that the interrogators wanted to charge Zaharan with membership in the PFLP; they also want him to incriminate Khalida Jarrar.
“Did you meet Khalida in the street or at headquarters?” The witness denied meeting with her.
The examination of the witness continued after the recess. Atty. Hassan asked the witness’s permission to show his medical record (since he claimed that he had fainted three times). The witness agreed, knowing that he was forfeiting medical confidentiality.
Another interesting detail came up in the cross-examination: Zaharan was barred from seeing counsel for 36 days. He was interrogated continuously under threats that he would never be allowed to see an attorney.
In cross-examination by the prosecutor, the latter tried to verify the exact date when the witness had fainted for the first time. The witness testified that he had fainted three times.
His answer was: It was at the Russian Compound, but I can’t tell if it was in the afternoon or in the evening,”
The prosecutor asked: The interrogators write that you were given breaks to go to your cell and to the bathroom. Are they lying?”
Answer: I already told you that I did not sleep for three days, and later I was allowed to sleep only for two hours… An Israeli representative from a Human Rights Organization visited me at the Russian Compound. He wrote down my account and taped me in the interrogation room.”
There was a reference to an interrogator who told Zaharan that his job was not to interrogate him but to deprive him of sleep. He played songs on a laptop. When that interrogator left the room, Zaharan tried to nap, but when the man came back, he rapped on the desk and woke him up.
All this is not new, but it is worth documenting and publishing.
The next hearing is set for 8.11.15.
Shosh Kahn (Women for Women Prisoners) and I came to observe the hearing in the case of Zabarin Abu Shrar – a medical intern from Doura. She was arrested on 7.6.15 and for three weeks was interrogated in Ashkelon. She has been in Sharon Prison since 25.6.15. She is awaiting an evidentiary hearing.
The witnesses summoned to testify did not show up, so the hearing was postponed to 22.11.15.
In the courtyard I met many acquaintances from Beit Ummar. This time there were “only” four hearings they came to attend, one of them of a minor.