Judicial corruption and the Modern methods of torture in Israel
On 27th February there was a wave of arrests with nearly a dozen people taken for interrogation. Of those, 3 remain in prison - Zvi Zer, human rights attorney; Lory Shem Tov, Journalist/Blogger and Moti Leybel, blogger and activist.
Mainstream newspapers immediately published that they were a cyber terrorist gang, naming and shaming the three in every publication. A documentary on national TV was shown with another lawyer claiming he had been blackmailed by the two bloggers.
Instead of the normal 30 days of questioning, the interrogations were extended by Attorney General Mandleblitt's office to 40 days. Every 7 days there was hearing - the 3 detainees brought into court and sent back to prison.
Finally, after 40 days 91 charges were put forward, all of them on Lory Shem Tov; over 60 shared with Moti Leybel, and 42 shared also with Zvi Zer.
The charges were for - insulting public officials, judges and social workers; defamation; impersonation (ie using different fb or website names); contempt of court; violation of privacy and publishing humiliating pictures.
All the charges were directly related to blogging. The law requires defence material to be supplied within a maximum of 30 days and the trial was set to begin in September 2017 lasting until January 2018 with over 300 witnesses involved.
It is well known in Israel that using a public defender in a criminal case is the weakest way forward. Until the charges, each defendant had a private lawyer. None of them could continue without high fees which were over $50,000 for the whole case, maybe more.
The defendants have attended two hearings a week; one with the Trial Judge Benny Sagi, and the other with the arresting Judge Avraham Haiman. Zvi Zer took a private lawyer in criminal law, the others taking Public Defenders.
The circus then began from April. Where was the defence material? Excuses poured from the prosecution, claiming it was difficult to provide the 20,000 documents and hundreds of cd's. Judge Sagi only wanted to know they were all with legal representation and Judge Haiman, with his reputation for never giving house arrest or bail, laughed through every plea and hearing to allow the 3 to go home under strict conditons.
Attorney Zer, having a private lawyer, was expected to also BUY the defence materials. Meanwhile each defendant appealed to the highest court in the State of Israel - the Supreme Court. They all wanted to go home on house arrest as none of them filled the legal criteria for detention. Each time they were rejected. The last appeal of Zer on 6th June has still not reached any decision at all. Nor the last appeal of Lory Shem Tov. Literally no decision. The Judges are paralysed and don't know what to do.
On 29th June, all 3 will yet again face the intransigent Judge Haiman, who will clearly use the excuse of no decision to keep them in detention. The evidence finally arrived two days ago. Such voluminous materials cannot all fit into prison cells, again deterring the defendants from being able to read the details of the charges.
Nothing destroys the soul, spirit, mind or hope more than the uncertainty. They cannot discuss the defence materials in the hearings. They cannot prove they are not dangerous for bail without discussing materials. They are all in a Catch 22. There is no intention of letting the detainees go home before or even until the end of proceedings as the prosecuton have demanded. In particular Zer, the attorney, is slowly disintegrating. Endless days and the inability to see materials are destroying him from the inside out.
In his case, he is the first lawyer in Israel's history to be illegally detained, and also have his lawyer/client confidentiality used as part of the charges against him.
The emotional torture results in divided families, losing friends, dead ends and endless efforts with no return. This is the classic way to dismantle the family, and cause the full breakdown of the prisoner, who in Israel is NOT innocent until proven guilty. It is quite the opposite.
On 6th June, Zvi's mother went to the Supreme Court, and was told by the Judge she could see her son after the non productive hearing. At the holding cell she was told by the police guards that he didn't want to see her. The same happened in reverse - that she didn't want to see him. This torture of families is cruel and could cause irreversible damage.
So why is this happening? Because the bloggers exposed the crimes of the Welfare and Judiciary, getting more and more extreme to get the attention required. In the USA there are endless cartoons and public humiliation of the President Trump - far more extreme than the Israeli bloggers. No American is in prison for much worse.
The lack of freedom of speech has been a growing concern for many years in Israel. Press censorship is at an all time high and there are more whistleblowers and activists in prison than at any other time. Ministers are being arrested and investigated yet walking free. The story of the Yemenite children stolen and dissected for experiments in the 50's is now in the public domain.
Sadly the cruelty of the systems could mean that one or more of the detainees could take their life. This would be - as one lawyer once said - a murder by the State. When they torture a person so much that they commit suicide, they are murdered.
Right now, it appears only public pressure will save the lives of those incarcerated.
All non Israelis - clog up the phone lines and demand the freedom of innocent people in Israel.
02-6753228. Fax: 02-6496659.
Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, 3514 International Dr NW, Washington, DC 20008
001 - 202 3645500.