Monday, July 06, 2015

Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt

Israeli Military Court Justice: Rubber-Stamp Guilt

by Stephen Lendman

All police states operate the same way. America is no different - nor Israel.

Civil law applies for Israeli Jews - not Palestinians. They're subject to military kangaroo court justice. Rubber-stamp convictions follow. Fundamental international rule of law principles don't apply.

A new B'Tselem report explains how Israel's system works for Palestinians - titled "Presumed Guilty: Remand in Custody by Military Courts in the West Bank." They're one of the main ways Israel enforces occupation harshness. 

Since 1967, over 800,000 Palestinians were victimized by tribunal injustice. "Detention is injurious by definition," B'Tselem explained. 

"It cuts people off from their lives, families, and surroundings." They're totally at the mercy of prison officials and guards showing them little or none.

Palestinians suffer horrifically under gulag conditions. Thousands of Palestinians are brought before military tribunals annually on bogus charges or none at all - including demonstrating peacefully, belonging to the wrong political organization or alleged stone-throwing.

Automatic guilt is standard practice. Justice is systematically denied. Remand proceedings alone expose gross injustice.

B'Tselem calls it "detention for the duration of all legal proceedings in the case of a person whose questioning and investigation has been completed and who has been formally charged." 

"Individuals on remand are not serving a prison sentence. They have not been sentenced, (or) found guilty. They are being held in custody when they should be presumed innocent."

Former Israeli Chief Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar explained as follows, saying:

"The defendant's very detention raises a serious preliminary question. This is, after all, a person who has not yet been convicted." 

"He is presumed innocent, and our experience shows that the presumption of innocence is not just a matter of theory, but that it is often substantiated when a defendant is acquitted."

Except for traffic violations not subject to imprisonment, remand most often is standard practice. Innocence is no defense. Military prosecutors routinely request detention and get it from military judges. The entire system reflects militarized police state injustice.

In theory, judges require three conditions for remand:

  • prima facie evidence of guilt;

  • at least one legal basis as justification; and

  • no alternatives to detention in their judgment.

In practice, IDF judges operate any way they wish. "The threshold for (acceptable) prima facie evidence is so low that it poses no obstacle to the prosecution," said B'Tselem. 

Virtually anything is acceptable no matter how bogus - regardless of complaints about abusive interrogations amounting to torture. The civilized world rejects so-called confessions extracted this way. Israel relies on them to convict and imprison.

Presumptions replace so-called "grounds for detention." No evidence is required or claiming it's secret for security reasons is good enough. So is saying suspects pose a danger to society or represent a flight risk.

Even in occasional cases when judges permit release, bail is set much higher than most Palestinians can afford.

Because justice in Israeli military courts is virtually impossible, most defense lawyers seek plea bargains. If clients go to trial, they'll often spend more time in detention than sentences imposed.

Arrests nearly always automatically assure detention - charged or held uncharged and untried administratively, indefinitely if Israel wishes.

Unlike civil justice for Israelis, military courts enforce occupation harshness - the longest by far in modern times at nearly half a century with no sign of it ending.

"(M)ilitary judges and prosecutors are always Israeli," BTselem explained. "They are soldiers in uniform enforcing martial law on the civilian Palestinian population living under military rule." 

"The people who take part in administering the occupation are on one side, while the regime's subjects are on the other. Military courts are not an impartial, neutral arbitrator. They are firmly entrenched on one side of this unequal balance."

Due process, judicial fairness and other international norms and standards don't exist. Police states make their own rules. They bear no relation to fundamental rule of law principles.

Israeli military courts are a cesspool of injustice. Numerous examples explain. On Monday, a Jerusalem military judge sentenced 23-year-old Odai Mofeed Bayyoumi to 13 months imprisonment plus four more suspended for expressing his views on Facebook.

Israel charged him with "incitement" for comments judged anti-Israeli. In May, 28-year-old Sami jamal Faraj Ideis was convicted of anti-Jewish social media comments. He'll spend eight months in prison on the bogus charge of supporting "terror."

Numerous other Palestinians face similar charges. Police states operate this way. Justice is systematically denied.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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