Lawyer: 'Hizbullah spy' only questioned on his politics

Omar Sa’id and Ameer Mahoul are suspected of contact with enemy agents.

May 14, 2010 02:39
3 minute read.
Hizbullah supporters wave Hizbullah flags during a

Hizbullah supporters wave Hizbullah flags during a. (photo credit: AP)


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Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police interrogators have only questioned Omar Sa’id, one of two Israeli Arabs recently detained on suspicion of having illegal contacts with Hizbullah agents, about his political connections, his lawyer, Hassan Jabareen, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Jabareen is the director of the Haifa-based Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Sa’id, 40, and Ameer Mahoul, 42, are being held in custody on suspicion of maintaining contacts with enemy agents and committing espionage. Said is a prominent activist in the Arab nationalist Balad Party. Mahoul is an author and head of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, also based in Haifa.

On Wednesday, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended their remands in custody by five days. Said was arrested on April 24 and Mahoul on May 6. The court also rejected a request by Mahoul’s lawyers to allow them to meet with him.

According to the Criminal Procedures Law (Arrests), the state may deny a security suspect access to a lawyer for 10 days with the court’s approval. After that, the president of the district court can approve a request by the state to deny the suspect’s access to a lawyer for another 11 days.

The law states that the court may only deny access if the meeting between the suspect and the lawyer could obstruct other arrests, cause the disclosure of further evidence or lead to a crime or loss of life.

The custody hearings, including Jabareen’s request to meet with Mahoul, were heard behind closed doors and so the court’s reasons for denying the request are unknown.

According to Jabareen, denying Mahoul’s right to see his lawyer could have serious repercussions. First of all, no one knows the state of Mahoul’s health and whether his interrogators have tortured him, Jabareen said. Second, his lawyers do not know the details of the allegations against him, and that makes it difficult for them to represent him in the remand hearings.

Jabareen has already met with Said.

Attorney Leila Margalit, of The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told the Post that in many cases, the law unjustifiably violates the basic rights of the suspect and can lead to an unfair trial. It potentially enables the state to use illegal methods of interrogation since the suspect may not know his rights, and the state can exploit the fact that the prisoner is isolated and alone as a pressure tactic to “break” him, which can also mean that the suspect will confess to acts he has not done, she said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Israeli authorities “to end their harassment” of Mahoul.

“Ameer Mahoul is a key human rights defender, well-known for his civil society activism on behalf of the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” said Phillip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, in a prepared statement. “His arrest and continued detention smacks of pure harassment, designed to hinder his human rights work. If this is the case, we would regard him as a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

Amnesty added that Mahoul was suffering from pains in his head. “In the unlikely event that there are genuine grounds to prosecute Mahoul, he should be charged with recognizable criminal offenses and brought promptly to trial in full conformity with international fair trial standards,” Luther said.

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