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Jerusalem District Court ordered the release earlier this week of a 15-year-old girl from the settlement of Shilo who refused to leave jail on bail or to recognize the authority of the court.
The girl, Tirza Sariel, spent more than two months in jail and was released only after she appealed to the Jerusalem District Court against a lower court decision.
Sariel was one of six girls arrested over an altercation 10 months ago with Palestinians who had come to harvest their olive trees. The girls attacked the Palestinians, charging that they had approached too close to the settlement.
According to Shmuel Medad, the legal adviser of Honenu, an organization that provides legal assistance to settlers and their supporters, police, who had been summoned to the scene of the clash, tried to arrest one of the girls. When her friends intervened to protect her, they detained all of them.
During a legal procedure more than two months ago, none of the girls - who had been released after their original detention - showed up in court. The police arrested five of them (the sixth was apparently not found) and brought them before a judge. Four of the girls or their families agreed to the judge's conditions for release, which including paying bail and signing a guarantee that they would show up in court for their trial. Sariel and her parents refused to do so on the grounds that she did not recognize the Israeli courts.
The court decided to keep her in jail to make certain she would be on hand for her trial.
During the hearing this week, her lawyer, Limor Solomon, of the Public Defender's Office, told Judge Noam Solberg there was no need to hold the girl in jail. The prosecution could either try Sariel in her absence, or issue a court warrant prior to the trial and deliver it to her at her school.
Sariel herself told Solberg, "I do not recognize this court. I do not respect it or you with your robe. This lawyer [Solomon] does not represent me. I do not recognize her or request her representation."
The prosecutor, Shmuel Herbst, told the court, "If we agree to release her, we are, in the final analysis, making a value and educational statement to the effect that the defendant is allowed to spit in the face of the state and say things that in themselves violate the law."
Solberg wrote that even if the girl were to go through the formalities of signing the bail terms, "I doubt it would be enough to guarantee that she would show up for the trialâ€¦ On the practical level, it does not appear that there would be much benefit even if she agrees to the terms for her release. On the level of principles, the girl will be put on trial whether she shows up or not. She knows the date of the trial, and should she decide not to attend, she will be tried anyway."
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