Report talks of 'trigger-happy' policy

By DAN IZENBERG
November 8, 2005 07:48
1 minute read.

According to the internal document drafted in the Public Defender's Office, "the investigative and arresting authorities adopted a 'trigger-happy' policy [vis- -vis detained disengagement protesters] and the courts cooperated with it." In doing so, the courts allegedly created new procedural rules. For example, judges heard prosecution requests to remand entire groups of, rather than individual, protesters. The proof presented by the police to back allegations that detained suspects directly participated in the demonstrations was often "extremely weak." The prosecutors left it up to the judge to determine whether there was a cause for arrest. In some cases, they presented the court with hours of videotapes of a demonstration and left it to the judges to view them themselves in order to determine that the suspects brought before them had in fact acted illegally. The courts used remands in custody to deter other disengagement opponents from blocking roads and other protest actions. But according to the law, deterrence is not a criteria for remanding in custody. They often agreed to keep protesters in jail instead of considering alternative measures. The courts, particularly the district courts, did not take into account that the suspects were minors and that juvenile court procedures placed special emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The courts often refused the Public Defender's request to postpone judicial procedures so that juvenile workers could meet with the suspects and try to help them. The Courts Administration made a policy ruling that the trials of the anti-disengagement defendants, unlike regular trials, would be conducted without delay and heard on consecutive days until completion. This policy interfered with the rehabilitation aspect of the legal procedures.


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