Public defender urges A-G to end trials for anti-pullout minors

Public Defender Inbal Rubinstein on Tuesday asked Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to postpone judicial proceedings against 47 defendants, all minors, who were indicted for violations connected to last year's anti-disengagement protests. According to the law, the Attorney-General is empowered to postpone trials for humanitarian reasons. These trials are generally not resumed, although the Attorney-General does not have the power to cancel them. According to Justice Ministry spokesman Ya'acov Galanti, all the defendants included in the Public Defender's request have at least two things in common: this is the first criminal file opened against each of them, and the charges involved are not "particularly grave." Most of them have been charged with illegal assembly or similar acts. The Justice Ministry stressed that no one in the group was suspected of committing violence against persons or property. Rubinstein wrote to Mazuz that "the time is ripe to reexamine the necessity of conducting trials against these minors." She added that in other situations, the personal circumstances of the suspects and the circumstances under which the violations were committed would justify closing the files without indictments. Galanti added that the Public Defender's Office would make similar requests in the coming weeks to postpone judicial proceedings against more minors. "These requests will deal with law-abiding minors for whom a criminal record would hurt their future and be an impediment later on in life," he wrote. A total of 650 indictments have been filed so far against anti-disengagement activists, Ariel Groner, who is in charge of detainee affairs for the pro-settlement advocacy group Honenu Legal Defense Association, told The Jerusalem Post. Groner said more indictments were being filed by the state prosecution each day. He added that a handful of cases have been settled in plea bargain agreements between the defendant and the prosecution, while a few defendants have been convicted and jailed or sentenced to periods of public service. Most defendants are represented by the Public Defender's Office or by lawyers supplied by Honenu, said Groner.