Review of Protocol of Tzviyah Sariel's Trial
(IsraelNN.com) Tzviyah Sariel, 18, is to remain in prison for yet another month - despite the desire of at least one of the complainants to erase the complaint and have her released.
A hearing was held Wednesday in the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court for Tzviyah, who has been imprisoned for almost three months on charges of having attacked Arabs who attempted to enter her town of Elon Moreh in Samaria (Shomron). Though her friend and fellow-arrestee signed the necessary papers and was immediately released, Tzviyah refuses to cooperate with the justice system at all. She is therefore still in prison, with her next court date set for a month from now.
The protocol of the testimony of the two Arabs who were allegedly attacked indicates, as Honenu director Shmuel Medad later told Arutz-7, "that there is simply a plot and scheme to keep Tzviyah in jail, for no justified reason. The elderly Arab says Tziyah did nothing more than try to take his cane, the other one said the same, and even the judge herself seemed ashamed to keep Tzviyah in jail for another month. It's either orders from above or I don't know what, but the judge ran out without announcing the decision - she had the stenographer do it for her - and did not seem to be happy or proud of her ruling."
Before the hearing began, State Prosecutor Shir Laufer - a religiously-observant woman living in central Israel - reportedly approached Tzviyah's mother and asked her, "Perhaps your daughter will agree to sign after all? Because if not, this won't end today..." This, Medad said, "appears to indicate that the prosecutor and judge have discussed the case and that the prosecutor knows the judge's plans."
Friends of Tzviyah, students at a religious girls' high school in the Shomron, addressed the following letter to the prosecuting attorney:
Shir Laufer, to whom are you loyal?Some of Tzviyah's friends said they planned to protest outside Ms. Laufer's home.
Tzviyah has been in jail for three months. She does not recognize your authority. You know that the responsibility for whatever harm befalls her is yours.
You, and the system that pays your salary, want her just to say: "Yes, I recognize your authority." But there is not one law in the current regime that obligates her to say so.
...You know that just a month ago, you [plural] were forced to release the girls, Tzviyah's friends [who also refused to cooperate with the court system], because even the [Jerusalem District] Court ruled that they were not to be punished before being found guilty. You know that after that ruling, the Prosecution was then forced to crawl back and request their release.
You have dual loyalty. On the one hand, the wig on your head declares that you believe in G-d and that you have a Jewish conscience. But on the other hand, it's not your conscience or faith that are paying your salary - and therefore you feel less obligated to them.
Shir Laufer, be ashamed!
This is not how a Jew should act. Your are not a robot of instructions and salary. Everyone knows that, although you [plural] want to drive Tzviyah insane, meanwhile, thank G-d, she is very strong.
Release Tzviyah from jail at once. Now.
Two prosecution witnesses, Abdel Karim Hussein, 36, and Abdel Baki Shahada Amar, 81, said that Tzviyah was not the girl who assaulted them in Elon Moreh. At one point, after being asked repeatedly to say whether Tzviyah had assaulted him, Hussein said with exasperation, "I want to understand one thing: You brought me here so that I could testify that she's the one?"
A report on IsraelJustice.com gave the following account of the testimony:
"I'm surprised that the girl who made all the problems is not here," Hussein said. "It was the other girl." Hussein said that Tzviyah had yelled at him to leave but she had not pushed him... Hussein, Amar and five others, aged between 60 to 70, said they were brought to Elon Moreh by the Civil Administration and the army on Dec. 4, 2007 after authorities had told them that they must come to claim their land or the Jewish settlers would take it.
Hussein refuted the police charge sheet that they had come to pick olives. "We had not visited our land for 20 years," Hussein said. "They're all old. They just wanted to see the land."
[Aram said,] "the girls came towards us and they told us to leave saying that the land belongs to Elon Moreh." Aram, who addressed the court through a translator, then testified that Tzviyah had cursed him, but when pressed, he retracted the accusation. He said that she only spoke Hebrew and that he did not understand Hebrew and that she had not cursed him. Amar... denied that Tzvia had either pushed him or threatened him.
The judge, noticeably annoyed with prosecutor Shir Laufer, said that the entire testimony was chaotic and asked if the witness was confused or had a hearing problem. Amar said he heard perfectly well and that he was over 80 years old and he refused to lie under oath. ...Laufer read [Aram's accusations] in Arabic but Aram denied writing the statement. He testified that he barely knew how to read Arabic and that the police officer just told him to sign.
"When the police wrote, I don't know what they wrote," Amar said. "I just signed. They told me to bring my identity card and to sign. The person who wrote my statement in Arabic spoke in Hebrew..." Bechor then asked Aram if he had been threatened to change his testimony. Amar said that Civil Administration officials had telephoned him every day to pressure him to testify.
"What am I? A child?" Aram asked. "Am I a lying witness? Civil Administration officials called every hour pressing me to testify. I was scared that they would punish me if I didn't come to testify." At this point, the judge declared..., "I am declaring the witness a hostile witness, after his testimony essentially differs from his statement."
Judge Bechor took long breaks during the hearing and heard other cases in between although all the remaining prosecution witnesses waited the entire day to testify. Several seconds after hearing a different case, the judge fled from the courtroom without announcing her decision. She whispered to the court stenographer that the next hearing in the case was called for April 3.
Hussein also said, "We are not interested in the accused being incarcerated, because she is a young girl, and I want this girl to know something, that the next time we come back to our lands, that she should not interfere, because it causes confusion/awkwardness to the police and the army. I tell you, in the name of the Haj, we are willing to withdraw the complaint because we want peace..."
Minutes later, the judge ordered the court adjourned without having Tzviyah released, and set the next court date for a month from now.