Russian Compound, Jerusalem - Shooting, Holding and trading of combat materiel
Translation: Eldad Kisch.
We waited on the steps of the courthouse for an hour until allowed to enter. The policeman at the entrance of the facility explained that the commander ordered him not to allow anyone in until the judge arrives. The judge was an hour late. Our requests to enter and wait in the waiting room, where the lawyers wait, were to no avail. A phone call to the commanding officer revealed that he was not on the premises and apparently this was not his order. Another phone call to Wafi Hanipas (public relations) was not of any help. Somebody explained afterwards that our permit was for entering the court and that we must wait for the court to begin proceedings and then go, accompanied by a policeman, straight into the courtroom. In the midday intermission we were required to leave the detention center and not to return before the proceedings in the courtroom resumed. All this of course to protect us from the detainees who might attack us from the cells. It all for our own safety, just as it is at the checkpoints.
Right from the start of the proceedings this was a very unusual day for this court. Not the usual assembly-line of detainees, where each of them is allotted 2-3 minutes, but an attempt by the defense counsel (one of them) to represent the interests of his clients. We had the impression that the judge responded to the wishes of the lawyer – to plead and to get responses from the interrogator – due to our presence in the courtroom. This does not mean that the prisoner gets a reduction of his period of arrest, or more attention or consideration. But the judge strictly and demonstratively observed all the injunctions and had differences of opinion with the investigator about how to conduc the trial. The ritual of extension of pre-arrest seemed this time to proceed with the judge as the winner, and not, as we are accustomed, with the absolute ascendancy of the investigator, who usually behaves as the omnipotent factor in the extension of arrests.
The judge: Major Samuel Fleischman.
The policeman/investigator: Sergeant Dudu Mizrahi
The interpreter: a soldier, Rafik Maklada, young and attentive, who translated quietly into the ear of the defendant (another interpreter worked in shifts with the first one).
A typist/soldier leads the defendants into the courtroom (from behind the door to the corridor, where they wait with their face to the wall, and takes off their handcuffs and their blindfolds). On the table in front of the investigator more than 40 files are stacked and he urges the court to start and to finish as many as possible. In the 1½ hours before the break 6 files were dealt with.
Muntasar (?). The policeman/investigator requests 18 days extension until the material is transferred to the military prosecutor. Lawyer Firas pleads with a considerable handicap (remember that he does not know what it in the classified files) that the prisoner transferred books to Gaza and tries to have him released. Says that he was lately suspected of the same offence and has been released. The judge looks through the file and summarizes that the suspect has linked himself during the investigation to information that not books are the issue but information on the preparation of explosives and he is a menace to the population. Extends his arrest for 11 days until 21.10.2007. (This prisoner has been under arrest already for at least 80 days! The judge cited from his interrogation of 20 July 2007).
Muhamed Said Salame. Lawyer Fahmi Avivi reaches an agreement with the interrogator even before the defendant has a chance to sit down on his bench. The judge sums up: 8 days to finalize the interrogation, until 18.10.2007. This file was returned from the military prosecution to complete the evidence. This is about planning a shooting attempt with others.
? ... Hatib? In this toocase lawyer Fahmi Avivi reaches an agreement with the police before the defendant manages to sit down. The file was returned from the military prosecution for completion of some specific items and only after these have been completed an indictment would be presented. The case here is forbidden activity within Hamas. The judge supports the agreement and extends arrest for 8 days but castigates the interrogator and threatens to release the prisoner if the investigators request another extension to complete the investigation after they have received extensions in the past according to their request. If after 8 days an indictment is presented, arrest will be granted until completion of the procedures; if no indictment is presented at that juncture, the prisoner will be released. Another prisoner (we did not catch his name), was arrested on 30 Sept 2007 and has been in isolation until this date. The lawyer Mamoun meets him for the first time, sits down next to him and starts whispering with him for several minutes. The policeman calls out to him, “enough’. The judge does not pay attention to the policeman. The prisoner is 18 years old now, and several offenses have been ascribed to him since the age of 14. The judge reads in the file (and irritates the investigator since at this stage not more is disclosed than “a danger to the region): preparation of explosives, manufacture of weapons, attempt to shoot at military vehicles, throwing of explosive devices into military camps, dealing in weaponry. The judge regrets that a boy of 14 devotes his time to these activities rather than going to school.
Anwar Ahmed Ibrahim El SheichArrested on 19.9.2007 (meaning that he has been under arrest for 50 days already). The investigator asks for extension of 10 days, and within that period an indictment will be handed down. Lawyer Mamoun says that during the previous hearings (on 10.10.2007, for the fourth extension) there was an agreement that the case would be transferred to the prosecution, and this has not been carried out. He requests that the court order that the case be transferred today to camp Ofer and to castigate the prosecution for their behavior. And, moreover, the lawyer said that the prisoner complained that someone from the “Nachshon” unit (the unit responsible for transferring prisoners from the prison to the courthouse and back – C.S.) hit him and broke his glasses. And also someone (during interrogation?) threatened him and told him that his daughters were murdered. The lawyer scans through the file and reads out loud from it, ignoring the displeasure of the interrogator. The suspect received large amounts of money, so it seems, in order to transfer them to enemy institutions, even though he denies it... There are three admissions by the suspect... There are reports from the interrogation of other witnesses... the last interrogation was on 2.10. 2007. He finds fault with the behavior of the police (the interrogation) and rebukes the policeman/investigator for the fact that the police request an extension of arrest for ‘completion of the interrogation’ and not for ‘interrogation’, meaning that it is for preparing an indictment, and surely, there was an agreement by the lawyer to an extension of 15 days to complete the investigation, and now the investigator demands another 10 days. In the end, the judge decides on an extension of 6 days. If no indictment is submitted until 16.10.2007 the suspect will be released, and his complaint of being hit by a soldier from the Nachshon unit must be transmitted to the military police.
Yusuf Husein Rag’ib Bargia, an older man, a dentist, was arrested on 17.9.2007, suspected of membership and activity in a hostile organization. The investigator links his suspicions against the suspect with those against Anwar Asheikh who is mentioned above, and wants an extension of 15 days.
Lawyer Mamoun: the prisoner denies that he was in contact with Anwar Asheikh, denies activity in Hamas. Mamoun demands that the investigator mention explicitly the name of the hostile organization in which Bargia is suspected to be active, and when this activity took place.
The investigator initially refuses to answer but the judge pressures him and explains that as long as the investigation continues he does not have to answer, but at the stage where the case is transferred to the prosecution, he is obliged to divulge the material in the file and answer the questions of defense counsel.
The investigator is befuddled, does not know what organization is involved. Searches in the file and finds ‘Agudat Ibrahimi’ and also a candidacy on the ‘Reform and Change’ list for the 2005 PA elections. Mamoun: ‘Agudat Ibrahimi’ is a charitable organization and as for the candidacy for “Reform and Change” – this party was legal at the time according to an agreement between the state of Israel and the PA. He was not elected and that was the end of his activity, and in the end he returned to his clinic and continued his work.
Why did you wait for two and a half years to arrest him?The investigator: hesitates and then answers ‘for reasons of priority of the investigation’.Mamoun: denies the suspicions, only admits to the candidacy for the 2005elections. His trip to Saudi Arabia was for attending religious ceremonies only. Requests to release him under conditions to be decided by the court and to allow him to return to his family and allow him to observe the Muslim holiday.
The judge summarizes in the well-known phrases: "The suspect’s testimony supports the suspicions against him ... the military court will have to decide if the movement for Reform and Change is legal, a permittedd or a prohibited movement according to the law.Extension of arrest for 11 days, until 21 Oct 2007. The prosecutor will decide if it is her intention to issue an indictment.