Elior Chen 248.88.
(photo credit: Israel Police )
Attorney Ariel Attari will not stop representing Elior Chen despite a court decision to replace him with a public defender, he told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“The judge cannot dismiss an attorney,” he said. “When the trial resumes on March 9, I will be in court.”
One day earlier, Jerusalem District Court Judge Yoram Noam ruled that Attari was not representing Chen properly and that he was appointing a public defender to take over the case.
Chen has been charged with ordering his followers to beat and abuse eight siblings whose mother belonged to his sect. The mother and other followers have also been charged with violence against the children in a separate trial. In the meantime, the mother turned state’s witness and has already testified against Chen in the current trial.
Chen is charged with abuse of a minor or helpless person, violence against a minor or helpless person and violence against a minor or helpless person causing severe injury.
On Tuesday, Noam wrote, “When the attorney announced that he would not question witnesses, would not state his opinion on whether evidence could be presented in court, would not summon witnesses and would not make a summary statement, he created a situation in which the trial is to all intents and purposes being conducted without effective representation. His completely passive presence in the courtroom is tantamount to not being there at all. In these circumstances, the court has a greater responsibility to protect the rights of the defendant and it would be proper to appoint a public defender, despite [Chen’s] opposition.
“Therefore,” Noam continued, “since the defendant does not have effective representation at this time in his criminal procedure, and in effect is not represented at all in the hearings, I hereby appoint a public defender.”
Asked by the Post a day later whether he was still Chen’s lawyer, Attari replied, “Absolutely yes.”
According to Noam, Attari refused to accept the judge’s decision to begin hearing witness testimony on February 15. Noam made the decision during a preliminary hearing on December 1, giving the attorney more than three months to prepare his case.
However, Attari charged that the judge had given him two day’s notice before making that decision and also declaring that the trial would be heard three times each week. Attari said he tried to protest the decision on several occasions but Noam would not listen to his request to give him more time to prepare.
Attari asked that testimony start being heard in September, 10 months after the indictment had been read out in court and the evidence gathered by the state handed over to him.
A week before the beginning of witness testimony, Attari asked Noam to allow his client and himself not to attend the trial.
In his request, which Noam described as “caustic,” Attari wrote, “the defendant has given up hope of receiving a fair trial.” He also informed the judge that he would behave completely passively until September, the time at which he believed the questioning of witnesses should rightfully begin.
Meanwhile, Attari is also facing charges in Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court of tampering with a witness, after he went to see the mother whose children were abused while she was in Neveh Tirza jail.
The visit took place on June 22, 2008, while Chen was still in Brazil, to which he fled after police began to investigate him, and before the mother turned state’s witness. He is charged with having tried to influence her to continue supporting Chen.