Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Legal Travesty of Justice

Received this from Women in Green:-

Rivka Meirchik is the second young Jewish woman this year to languish in the Neve Tirza prison without trial after refusing to recognize the authority of the court and to cooperate with the prosecution. On May 22, an Israeli judge sent Meirchik back to jail for another month after deeming her refusal to cooperate with authorities an ideological crime.

Rivka Meirchik, 29, an anti-government [policy] demonstrator who participated in Jewish settlement and was arrested almost two months ago, is being held until the end of judicial proceedings. She has refused to cooperate with authorities, including paying a release bond and agreeing to restrictive conditions.

"[For Meirchik] it's ideological," Kfar Saba Magistrate Clara Rejiniano said. "The law allows me to keep a person nine months. These are legal decisions which we must respect." Rejiniano, who ordered Meirchik remanded in custody until the end of judicial proceedings on April 21, scheduled the next hearing for June 19.

Ms. Meirchik was arrested on April 2 in the Jewish community of Shvut Ami after police ordered all Jews evacuated from the area. [Shvut Ami was one of the Jewish communities established after the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron in August 2005.]

Merichik was charged with trespassing, assaulting a police office and disobeying military orders after the area was proclaimed a closed military zone. For her part, she said that she was beaten by police.

She has since been held in the Neve Tirza prison after she refused to recognize the authority of the court, refused to cooperate with police prosecutor Shir Laufer and refused to accept court-imposed conditions for her release.

Meirchik, who appeared pail [pale] and frail, has also refused to be handcuffed or shackled with leg-irons with the result that prison authorities have refused to allow her out of her solitary confinement cell and have deprived her of phone and visitation rights. However, she is brought to court appearances manacled and on April 14, Kfar Saba Magistrate Nava Bechor ordered her held in leg-irons and handcuffs throughout the hearing. [Bechor is the same judge who ordered Tzvia Tsariel held for a fourth month in jail prior to her trial.]

During the May 22 hearing Rejiniano said she had no authority to release Meirchik, despite the prosecution's insistence on calling an expert witness to testify on the land claims by Arabs to Shvut Ami, located near the Jewish community of Kedumim, to prove the trespass offense.

Defense attorney Aviad Visoly asked that Meirchik be released from hearings as the cross-examination of the witness would be lengthy and Meirchik had already spent close to two months in prison.

"I reiterate my request to free the defendant from the hearing and all other hearings," Visoly said, "in view of the fact that the prosecution witness has brought 10 pages on testimony and will be questioned on every paragraph."

Attorney Rinat Levine from the military prosecutor's office presented the court with Jordanian maps and tax possession registration documents from 1933 and 1936 as evidence that the land is owned by Arabs.

The judge, visibly annoyed by prosecutor Nili Dayan for bringing the witness, nevertheless castigated Visoli for a political cross-examination. "Who has sovereignty in Judea and Samaria according to international law?" Visoli asked Levine. "I will prove that according to international law that Israeli law is the law in Judea and Samaria." The judge refused to allow Levine to answer the question. "This is political," Rejiniano said as she addressed the prosecutor. "Do you understand what you have brought to this trial for an offense of trespassing?"

A second witness, border policeman Nasid Sayad, testified that Meirchik had assaulted him and resisted arrest while she was sitting on the ground. Sayad, who said he bent down to touch Meirchik's bag, first said Meirchik bit him when she was sitting down and later testified that Meirchik also slapped him. Visoli asked Sayad to demonstrate how a police office, over one meter tall, with a second police officer at his side, was slapped and bitten by a very slight young woman in a sitting position. Sayad refused to cooperate with the defense's request.

Visoli said he will appeal to the Supreme Court to have Meirchik released immediately. He said that it isn't a crime under Israeli law not to recognize the authority of the court. "It's shocking," Visoli said. "Her incarceration is illegal and so is keeping her in custody until the end of proceedings."

3 comments:

Peter said...

I would like to empathize with the policeman-beating girl who is held in the jail for the whole of two months. Well, the policeman was a Druze (I guess), so, that doesn't really count.
But if so, let us also empathize with hundreds of Arabs held in administrative detention in Israeli jails, as well unarmed protesters shot by the IDF/Border Police.

YMedad said...

And, remind me, what crime where those Arabs suspectd of? what crime were they about to commit? or already did get involved in? was it terror? killing? maiming?

Peter said...

”And, remind me, what crime where those Arabs suspectd of?”

Hahaha, that’s the whole point: I don’t know and nobody does because they are in administrative detention, ie, just like in Guantanamo, they never faced a fair trial and are put there on the whim of the security forces. For all I know all of them could be innocent. More likely, some are indeed security threats while many others are just victims of a brutal military regime being imposed on the WB for 40 years. See, for example, this and this and this, for the examples of our “just” and “humane” system*. Even if all of them are security threats, there is LAW and presumption of innocence, so, if Sin Bet or whoever is so sure they are dangerous let them prove it.

But my bigger point is: you won’t find a lot of sympathy crying a river about evacuation of Amona with a couple of bruises and broken arms or some hilltop extremists being tried (for a change!) while never mentioning that this state exercises an incomparably more brutal policy towards Palestinians and peace-activists, as in the Bli’in demonstrations, for example. When the security forces start shooting rubber bullets, god forbid, at dangerous settlers then we could talk about some even-handiness. I say “some”, because in the case of Bli’in they are shooting in an unprovoked manner, as numerous video-tapes have shown.

By the way, I in no way advocate shooting bullets, rubber or otherwise, at anybody. I’d rather have the security forces use non-lethal means when confronting even violent demonstrations. However it is precisely some elements in the settler community abetting violence in case the state decides to evacuate them. It is them trying to reach dĂ©tente with the state, just as it is them that that will cry the loudest once the bullets start flying. To which I say: as you sow so shall you reap.

*These, admittedly, are just the first hits you’ll get on Google if you ever try to find out anything about this; bother to read just some of these and let your humane side speak and you’ll feel how terribly wrong and unjust what we are doing to these people is.