Ameer Makhoul
Binyamin Gonen, 'This is fascism'
Photo: Ido Erez

Makhoul permitted to meet lawyers

After defense team threatens to boycott remand hearing, court decides to lift order barring espionage suspect from meeting with lawyers, postpones session to 9 pm

The session that was scheduled for Monday morning on the remand of Ameer Makhoul, who is suspected of espionage together with Omar Said, was postponed to 9 pm. The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court ruled that the order prohibiting Makhoul from meeting with his lawyers will be lifted at that time, and he will be able to see his legal team for the first time since his arrests 12 days ago.


Outside the courthouse, dozens of Makhoul's relatives, supporters and leftists protested during the session.


At the start of the session, Makhoul's lawyers said they would boycott the meeting if they were not allowed to see their client. Attorney Abeer Baker of Makhoul's defense team told Ynet that they planned to file a special request to meet with Makhoul before Monday night's session and added, "There's no reason to prohibit this meeting once the order is lifted."


Baker added that if the defense team is not permitted to meet with Makhoul before the session, they will ask to have it postponed. "Once the order is lifted, there should be nothing stopping us from sitting with him as his lawyers, enquiring on his health and asking him what he has been through," she said, "in order to enable efficient legal representation."


The 52-year-old writer from Haifa, who is a well-known figure in the Arab society, and 50-year-old Balad activist Omar Said, were arrested on suspicion of espionage and contact with a foreign agent from Hezbollah.


An appeal filed against the extension of Said's remand until Thursday was also rejected by the Petah Tikva court on Monday.


'Forces of darkness at work'

Dozens of protesters, including Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, gathered outside the court to demonstrate against Makhoul and Said's detention. 


The demonstrators protested against that fact that the detainees, who has been in custody for 12 days now, have yet to be allowed to meet with their attorneys. For this reason, the suspects' lawyers also decided to boycott the remand hearing.


The protesters carried signs that read: "The forces of darkness are at work in the light. Free Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said."


Makhoul's wife, Janan, said that since her husband's arrest, she has been kept in the dark. "I am worried about what is happening to Ameer, but we have nothing to fear concerning the suspicions against him. We know that Ameer Makhoul saw a doctor twice after complaining of pains, but we do not know what the results of the medical examinations were. They are not giving us any information about his medical state."


She noted that she requested doctors from the Physicians for Human Rights organization examine her husband "so that we can get an objective opinion, not the opinion of the Prison Service's doctor.


"But our request was denied. What is happening here is illegal and concerning, it is unthinkable that in a law-abiding state, suspects' rights are being violated. We decided not to enter the courthouse today in protest."  

Protest outside courthouse (Photo: Ido Erez)


Former MK Issam Makhoul, Ameer's brother, said, "This is a shame on the State of Israel". MK Afu Aghbaria (Hadash) was also at the demonstration. The two said they would work across the country and around the world against the decision to detain the two and prevent them from meeting their lawyers.


The suspects and their lawyers were kept from meeting in previous remand sessions as well. The suspects were removed form the courtroom when their counsels made their arguments, and were then allowed back in after the lawyers were taken out of the hall.


Makhoul's counsel, Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, said he filed two objections to the court's decision to keep him from meeting his client, but that his requests were denied.


"The right to see an attorney is a basic right that even filthy criminals receive…We have reached the conclusion today that there is no point in attending the session if they do not allow us to see the suspects. The court is giving a rubber stamp to the Shin Bet's requests to ban these meetings and the only civilian the suspects have seen since their arrest is the judge. We must not have a hand in what is happening here."


Binyamin Gonen of Hadash was also at the demonstration, and he believes this is where fascism beings. "For years I have been attending protests together with minorities, be it workers, or Israeli Arabs," he said, "What is happening here is fascism, and history teaches us that any time a minority was affected, everyone said it's no big deal, but this cannot be happening.


"Why must the court sessions be held in the dark? This is reminiscent of dark countries. Why not let them meet with their lawyers? I also incite against the government's policies and against the occupation, let them arrest me too."


Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.17.10, 13:29
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