Mil­i­tary trial of teenager opens be­hind closed doors

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

OFER: A Pales­tinian teenager charged af­ter a vi­ral video showed her hit­ting two Is­raeli sol­diers in a case that has gained global at­ten­tion went on trial in mil­i­tary court on Tues­day in closed-door pro­ceed­ings.

The judge in the trial or­dered jour­nal­ists re­moved from the court­room, rul­ing that open pro­ceed­ings would not be in the in­ter­est of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who is be­ing tried as a mi­nor.

Only fam­ily mem­bers were al­lowed to re­main in the court­room, with diplo­mats present to ob­serve also asked to leave.

A large crowd of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists had shown up to cover the trial of Tamimi, who has be­come some­thing of an icon for Pales­tini­ans and sup­port­ers of their cause world­wide.

Tri­als of mi­nors in mil­i­tary court are typ­i­cally closed, but Tamimi’s lawyer said pre­vi­ous hear­ings for the teenager were open and she ar­gued for it to re­main that way.

“They un­der­stand that peo­ple out­side Ofer mil­i­tary court are in­ter­ested in Ahed’s case, they un­der­stand that her rights are be­ing in­fringed and her trial is some­thing that shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing,” Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky told jour­nal­ists af­ter hav­ing un­suc­cess­fully ob­jected to the judge’s de­ci­sion to close the trial.

“So the way to keep it out of ev­ery­body’s eyes is to close doors and not al­low peo­ple in­side the court for her hear­ing.”

Tamimi ar­rived at the mil­i­tary court near Jerusalem in the oc­cu­pied West Bank dressed in a prison jacket with her hands and feet shack­led, smil­ing slightly as jour­nal­ists pho­tographed her.

Her fa­ther Bassem Tamimi waved to her from the au­di­ence, yelling out “stay strong, you will win.”

Closed-door pro­ceed­ings were held for a cou­ple hours be­fore ad­journ­ing. Ms Lasky said she ar­gued that the trial could not move for­ward be­cause Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion of the West Bank and its court sys­tem there is il­le­gal.

Pros­e­cu­tors re­quested more time to pre­pare a re­sponse and a new date was set for March 11, ac­cord­ing to Ms Lasky.

Ms Lasky added that she would make a new re­quest to have the trial opened.

Bassem Tamimi told jour­nal­ists af­ter the ad­journ­ment that “hav­ing peo­ple at­tend the court — jour­nal­ists, con­suls, diplo­mats, ob­servers and lawyers — is very im­por­tant be­cause it keeps them safe and makes us feel that those in court are safe.”

Is­raelis ac­cuse her fam­ily of us­ing her as a pawn in staged provo­ca­tions.

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