Ahmad Sa'adat's family is prevented from visiting him as the show in the military court goes on


Not much remains of the "Ana-police" summit, where Bush gathered together Arab leaders to push them into Israel's embrace, and yet Ahmad Sa'adat, the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), continues to languish in the faraway Nafha prison in the Naqab desert, where he was sent by the prison authorities, as punishment for his declarations warning the Arab masses against the danger of this plot.

In recent months, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have added new punitive measures against comrade Sa'adat, such as preventing his family from visiting him in the prison. Such that on Wednesday, the 13th of February 2008, when the military court in the "Ofer" barracks resumed its proceedings, after a hiatus since the last session in November, it was the first time his family had the chance to see him after a long absence...

In recent years, the IOFs military courts have adopted strict measures that prevent encounters between Palestinians prisoners and their families, stripping them of any human contact. Only two members from the family of each prisoner are allowed to enter the court. In the courtroom itself, the two lucky family members are prevented from going anyway near their beloved one, even in the period before the judge enters the courtroom or during the breaks in the hearings. Family members are additionally confined to the most remote bench at the very rear of the court's room.

Ahmad Sa'adat's wife, 'Abla, came to the "Ofer" court with the couple's daughter, Sumud, a student, and from the distant rear bench, they attempted to communicate with Ahmad above the heads of the lawyers and the guards, so as to bridge the long gap with many months of family news, sorrows for the loved ones that have passed away, and the passing on of some encouragement ...

The court hearing has now reached a new stage. Before February, over several long hearings, all the witnesses had been Palestinian prisoners who happened to mention Ahmad Sa'adat during their interrogations by Israeli security services. Many of them simply mentioned that they met him or knew him to be the Secretary-General of the PFLP. While testifying in court, most of the Palestinian witnesses had denied much of what was written in the papers transcribing their interrogations, and were subsequently declared to be "hostile" witnesses by the court. Now, the prosecution is calling upon the interrogators themselves to present evidence, in order to convince the court to prefer the 'confessions' taken at the time of the interrogations to the testimonies of the interrogees, as given before the court.

The previous hearings had taken place as though suspended between two worlds: In one world, Palestinian prisoners would speak in Arabic about their struggle, of honour, and on the effects of torture. In another world, in the same courtroom, beyond the wall of broken translations, the military judges would hear in Hebrew of terrorist organizations, hostile acts and confessions, filling the court's files with what they heard. In the February 13th hearing however, the court became one united occupation family, with its military judges, military prosecutors and police witnesses, all speaking the same Hebrew language of occupation among themselves.

Ahmad Sa'adat remained steadfast in his position of not recognizing the legitimacy of the court, and continued to forbid his lawyers, led by Mahmoud Hassan from ed-Damir, from taking any part in the court's procedures.

At this hearing, three interrogators gave evidence before the court, each of them beginning by introducing himself to the court by listing his years of experience as police interrogator and his knowledge of the Arabic language, acquired as part of this work. Their testimonies were designed to bestow credibility to the 'confessions' procured at the time of the interrogations, so that they all now appeared in court as experts on the subject of man's free spirit, all searching for ways to prove that their hapless victims were confessing out of their own "free will". With great dedication to their work, the interrogators displayed enormous creativity in providing "proofs" for these "free will" expressions. One testified that there was no evidence attesting to the use of force on the body of "the suspect", and that this was clearly true since "if there were such signs I would write it in my report!" The second concentrated on describing the positive atmosphere at the time of his interrogations, proven through the relation of anecdotes covering his comments at the time, and how "the suspect" had enjoyed a coffee and was permitted to smoke. The third, while trying to explain why one of those interrogated, by the name of Hamdy Kur'an, refused to sign his "free will" testimony, showed that in the interrogation transcript, it was recorded that he himself had asked Hamdy why he refused to sign - and so on and so forth. The show put on by the interrogators and their entire system of lies seemingly must go on!

Even in the absence of any role taken up by the defense, the players of the three roles (the judges, prosecutors and interrogators) could not ignore the central role of the General Security Services (GSS or Shabak), who are the Directors and leading men in this theatre, though they prefer to remain backstage. In response to the testimony of one witness, who told the court that his confession was extorted as a result of the harsh conditions of his interrogation, one of the interrogators was fast to conclude that the witness was relating the conditions of his interrogation by the Shabak, and not those of police since, "the conditions of the interrogation at the police are very different." Conscious of this, the interrogators and the judges have constructed their own theory of "free will" based on a separation between the interrogations of the Shabak and those of the police, and have taken great care to deny any involvement on the part of the Shabak during the time in which the "confessions" were procured, and this in direct contradiction to what several of the witnesses interrogated had testified before the court. This non-intervention on the part of the Shabak was "proven" by the fact that there is no mention any such intervention in their reports!

There was a unique human scene in the court/theatre, as one of the interrogators, who apparently had the chance through his interrogations to get to know and respect Ahmad Sa'adat, approached him after giving his testimony, as if approaching an old friend, to wish him well, saying in Hebrew "behatslakha", and then, as if to provide proof of his fluent Arabic, of which he boasted during his testimony, "bilnejakh (success)". Ahmad's wife and daughter however, were not allowed to go anywhere near their beloved husband/father, and were forced to leave the courtroom as soon as the court adjourned.

The court has set its next hearing into the case for next Wednesday, the 20th of February 2008 (20/2/2008) at 13:00.

For more details: www.freesaadat.ps