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Jerusalem 3239/Section 6

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ACTION SS-25

INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SSO-00 /026 W
044025 011023Z /13

R 301108Z NOV 78
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2241
INFO AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV

SECRET SECTION 6 OF 7 JERUSALEM 3239

STADIS/////////////////

EXDIS

18. COMPLAINTS AND CHALLENGES. MANY APPLICANTS INTERROGATED AT TAMALLAH [Ramallah?] AND HEBRON STATED THAT THEY SIGNED TWO CONFESSIONS: THE FIRST, BEFORE THEIR ACTUAL INTERROGATORS, MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY ORGANS, AND THE SECOND (A DUPLICATE OF THE FIRST) BEFORE AN ORDINARY POLICEMAN. WHEN THE CONSULAR OFFICER ASKED SEVERAL APPLICANTS WHO HAD OMITTED TO MENTION THE SECOND CONFESSION WHETHER THEY HAD SIGNED ONLY ONE, THEY REPLIED THAT OF COURSE THEY HAD SIGNED A SECOND DOCUMENT -- BUT THOUGHT THIS WAS NOT WORTH MENTIONING BECAUSE IT WAS A STANDARD PROCEDURE. ACCORDING TO THE APPLICANTS, THE PROCEDURE BEGINS WITH THEIR INTERROGATION UNDER TORTURE BY MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY ORGANS, WHO EITHER DO NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES TO THE ARRESTEE OR WHO USE ARABIC (OR SOMETIMES AMERICAN) PSEUDONYMS, AT AN INTERROGATION CENTER USED FOR DEALING WITH POLITICAL CASES. WHEN THE ARRESTEE BREAKS DOWN, AN INTERROGATOR DICTATES A CONFESSION OR WRITES IT FOR HIM. FOLLOWING THE SIGNATURE OF THIS FIRST CONFESSION, THE ARRESTEE IS TOLD THAT HE WILL BE TAKEN TO THE LOCAL POLICE STATION, WHERE HE MUST CONFESS AGAIN, REPRODUCING THE CONTENT OF THE FIRST CONFESSION -- AND THAT IF HE REFUSES, HE WILM [sic] BE RETURNED TO INTERROGATION UNDER TORTURE. AT THE POLICE STATION, ORDINARY POLICEMEN QUESTION HIM WITHOUT THE THE [sic] USE OF FORCE, AND HE SIGNS THE SECOND CONFESSION. (ONE

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APPLICANT, WHO WAS INTERROGATED AT NABLUS, TOLD OF A VARIANT OF THIS PROCESS, IN WHICH, INSTEAD OF HIS BEING TAKEN TO THE POLICE STATION TO SIGN A SECOND CONFESSION, THE POLICEMAN WAS BROUGHT TO THE INTERROGATION ROOM FOR A MINUTE OR TWO JUST TO WITNESS THE SIGNATURE OF A CONFESSION, THE INTERROGATORS HAVING LEFT THE ROOM BY ANOTHER DOOR.) COURT RECORDS INDICATE THAT AT MANY OF THE TRIALS THE ONLY WITNESS WAS A LOCAL POLICEMAN, AND APPLICANTS WHO UNDERSTOOD THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR TRIALS RELATE THAT THIS POLICEMAN WAS THE ONE WHO HAD WITNESSED THE SIGNATURE OF THEIR SECOND CONFESSION, AND WAS BROUGH [sic] FORWARD IN ORDER TO TESTIFY THAT THE CONFESSION HAD BEEN MADE FREELY, NOT UNDER DURESS. SUCH A PROCEDURE, WHICH WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT FAR-REACHING COOPERATION BETWEEN THE POLICE AND THE SECURITY ORGANS, COULD ONLY HAVE BEEN CHALLENGES TO THE VALIDITY OF THE CONFESSIONS.

19. AT THEIR TRIALS, THREE APPLICANTS CHALLENGED THE VALIDITY OF THEIR CONFESSIONS. THE REACTION OF THE COURT, AS DESCRIBED BY THESE APPLICANTS, STANDS IN MARKED CONTRAST TO GOI'S [1] CONTENTION THAT ALLEGATIONS OF MISTREATMENT ARE CAREFULLY INVESTIGATED. ONE APPLICANT SAID THAT AN ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICER SENT HIM TO SYRIA TO CONTACT HIS BROTHER, A KNOWN FATAH [2] OFFICER, BUT THAT WNE [sic] HE RETURNED, HE WAS ARRESTED AND, AS A RESULT OF PHYSICAL PRESSURES DURING INTERROGATION, HE CONFESSED TO THE CHARGE OF "CONTACTING AN ENEMY ORGANIZATION." AT THE FIRST SESSION OF HIS TRIAL IN JANUARY 1977, HE REQUESTED THAT THE ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICER, WHOM HE NAMED, BE PRODUCED AS A DEFENSE WITNESS. THE TRIAL WAS POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL 1977, THE OFFICER DID NOT ATTEND, AND THE ACCUSED WAS CONVICTED ON THE BASIS OF HIS CONFESSION AND SENTENCED TO EIGHTEEN MONTHS IMPRISONMENT. ANOTHER APPLICANT, WHO WAS TRIED IN APRIL 1976, STATED, IN RESPONSE TO THE JUDGE'S QUERRY [sic] AS TO WHETHER HE AFFIRMED HIS CONFESSION, THAT HE REPUDIATED IT BECAUSE IT

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WAS FALSE AND HAD BEEN OBTAINED BY TOTURE [sic]. THIS APPLICANT SAID THAT THE JUDGE TOLD HIM TO BE SILENT, THEN HURRIEDLY SENTENCED HIM TO SIX YEARS IMPRISONMENT. THE CONFESSION WAS THE ONLY EVIDENCE PRESENTED. A THIRD APPLICANT, WHOSE TRIAL DRAGGED ON FOR FOURTEEN SESSIONS OVER A PERIOD OF ALMOST TWO YEARS, ENDING IN AGUST [sic] 1972, WAS REPRESENTED BY AN ISRAELI ATTORNEY WHO MADE A CONCERTED EFFORT TO HAVE THE CONFESSION INVALIDATED. THE PROSECUTION CONTENDED THAT THE CONFESSION HAD BEEN TAKEN WITHOUT FORCE BY ORDINARY POLICEMEN. AN OPENING FOR THE DEFENSE CAME, THE APPLICANT SAID, WHEN HIS ACTUAL INTERROGATORS, WHO HAD EXTRACTED A CONFESSION THROUGH THE USE OF SEXUAL SADISM, HAPPENED TO VISIT THE COURTROOM. THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY CALLED THE JUDGE'S ATTENTION TO THE PRESENCE OF THESE INTERROGATORS. THE JUDGE ASKED THE ACCUSED THE NAMES OF HIS INTERROGATORS, AND HE GAVE THE ARABIC PSEUDONYMS WHICH THEY HAD USED. THE APPLICANT SAID THAT THE JUDGE THEREUPON LAUGHED AND CUT OFF THIS LINE OF INQUIRY ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE MEN WHOM THE ACCUSED HAD POINTED OUT IN COURT WERE ISRAELIS AND NOT ARABS.

20. THE REMAINING TWENTY-TWO WHO WERE BROUGHT TO TRIAL APPARENTLY DID NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTEST THE VALIDITY OF THEIR CONFESSIONS. ON THE CONTRARY, MOST OF THESE INDIVIDUALS SEEM TO HAVE AFFIRMED THEIR CONFESSIONS AT THEIR TRIALS AT THE ADVICE OF THEIR ATTORNEYS. WASFI AL-MASRI OF NABLUS, THE LOCAL ATTORNEY MOST SUCCESSFUL IN OBTAINING INVALIDATIONS OF CON- FESSIONS IN THE MILITARY COURTS ON THE GROUND THAT THESE CON- FESSIONS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED BY TORTURE, EXPLAINED THIS TO THE CONSULAR OFFICER IN TERMS OF LEGAL TACTICS. HE SAID THAT HE CONTESTED THE VALIDITY OF THE CONFESSION ONLY IN CASES WHERE THE ACCUSED MIGHT BE SENTENCED TO IMPRISONMENT FOR LIFE OR A VERY LONG TERM OF YEARS. (IN THIS REGARD, AL-MASRI CHARACTERIZED A PRISON SENTENCE OF THREE YEARS AS "NOT SERIOUS"). IN ALL OTHER CASES, SAID AL-MASRI, HE ADVISED HIS CLIENTS TO AFFIRM THEIR CONFESSIONS IN COURT, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY HAD BEEN EXTRACTED BY FORCE. FURTHERMORE, IN THOSE CASES WHERE HE CHALLENGED THE VALIDITY OF A CONFESSION SUCCESSFULLY

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ON THE GROUND THAT IT HAD BEEN OBTAINED BY TORTURE, AL-MASRI SAID THAT HE ALWAYS TOOKCARE [sic] TO MAKE CLEAR TO THE JUDGE THAT IF HIS CLIENT WERE GIVEN A REDUCED SENTENCE THERE WOULD BE NO PUBLICITY OF THE CASE AND NO INSISTENCE THAT THE ACTUAL REASON FOR THE NON-ACCEPTANCE OF THE CONFESSION EVEN BE ENTERED IN THE COURT RECORD. THIS APPROACH WOULD OBVIOUSLY BE UNWORKABLE IF APPLIED TO A LARGE NUMBER OF CASES.


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NotesEdit

  1. Government of Israel
  2. Fatah is the largest component of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
 

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).