Ameer Makhoul’s defense team threatens to boycott tomorrow’s remand hearing
Eleven days have passed since he was arrested by the General Security Services (GSS aka Shin Bet aka Shabak), but Amir Makhoul has still not been allowed to see a lawyer. With his remand hearing scheduled for tomorrow, both the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Palestinian-Israeli human rights group Adalah issued sharp protests this afternoon (May 16 2010.)
According to a press release on Adalah’s website, Makhoul has so far not been allowed to appear at his own court hearings, during which his remand was extended twice.
Secret information was exchanged between the court and the General Security Services (GSS or Shabak) at the hearings. Questions were asked and notes passed between the court and the Shabak. No information was given to his lawyers about the substance of the investigation or his personal health condition or the conditions of his detention. All this information was classified. Thus the court has in effect only heard the side of the Shabak.
His legal team has taken the unprecedented step of threatening to boycott tomorrow’s hearing:
“Due to the utter lack of respect for due process, the representation of Ameer Makhoul in the detention hearings has become meaningless.”
ACRI has, according to a statement posted on its website, “sent an appeal to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein today, demanding that he act urgently to permit the meeting of arrested political figure Amir Makhoul with an attorney.” In her letter to the attorney general, ACRI attorney Lila Margalit wrote:
“It’s critical to remember that a suspect is simply an individual whose involvement in a crime is being examined. As such, he or she is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Respect for his or her due process rights is intended to ensure that the process aimed at determining guilt or innocence is fair and effective.”
Makhoul, 52, heads Ittijah, and umbrella group of Palestinian-Israeli NGOs. GSS agents arrested him in front of his wife and daughters 11 days ago, during a pre-dawn raid at his home in Haifa. It later emerged, primarily via Israeli bloggers, that Omar Said, 50, a member of Balad, an Arab political party in Israel, was arrested last month. The courts placed a gag order on both arrests, but it was ignored by bloggers and was lifted shortly thereafter.
Neither Makhoul nor Said has been charged as yet. The Shin Bet says they are suspected of “severe security offences including contacting a Hezbollah agent.”
In-depth information and analysis on this issue can be found on Jewish-American blogger Richard Silverstein’s site, Tikkun Olam.