Military court orders release of Ni'lin video whistleblower's father

Jamal Amira accused of hitting soldier; son says he was arrested because of film showing IDF shooting.

fence protest nilin 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
fence protest nilin 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Jamal Amira, the father of a 14-year-old girl from Ni'lin who filmed a soldier firing a plastic-covered iron bullet at a bound Palestinian protester, returned home on Sunday evening after a military appeals court judge overruled a lower court and ordered his release from jail, his son, Ghaleb, told The Jerusalem Post. "He spent 25 days in jail for nothing," said the son. Amira was arrested three days after the B'Tselem human rights group released a video clip filmed by his daughter, Salaam, on July 7, showing St.-Sgt. L firing from point blank range at Ashraf Abu Rahme. The soldier said he had been ordered to do so by the commander of the armored battalion in charge of the area, Lt.-Col. Omri Borberg. Both soldiers have been indicted on charges of conduct unbecoming a soldier and Borberg was removed from his post. Ghaleb Amira told the Post that during a protest at Ni'lin on July 23, three days after the film was released and displayed by the media, security forces pointed at his father, Jamal, and said, "that's the father of the girl who took the pictures." Jamal was arrested and charged with hitting a soldier on his helmet with a stick. He was indicted on July 29 and the court granted the army's request to remand him in custody until the end of the proceedings against him. His trial is due to begin on September 3. Amira's lawyer, Gabi Laski, appealed against the remand decision to the military appeals court in Judea and Samaria. The case was heard by Maj. Yoram Haniel. After hearing the sides, Haniel overruled the lower court decision. "In the existing circumstances," he wrote, "I believe it is doubtful that the evidence in the case will lead to a conviction and it is also doubtful whether it meets the tests required to extend the remand in custody until the end of proceedings." In the indictment, the state accused Amira of violating a military order declaring the area of the protest a closed military zone, he had participated in a protest and hit the soldier on his helmet. Haniel wrote that based on the evidence, the protest had been a quiet one. Amira, he continued, claimed he had not hit the soldier deliberately and that in a confrontation between the defendant and the soldier, the defendant's version appeared closer to the truth. The judge also said he doubted whether the military commander in the area had shown the protesters an order declaring the area a closed military zone. Haniel ordered the army to release Amira on bail of NIS 7,500, forbade him from participating in any protests against the route of the West Bank security barrier and to appear at all the hearings in his trial.