Witnesses in Bassem Tamimi’s Trial: “We were Instructed by Interrogators to Incriminate Him”

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 29 November 2011

15 year-old Mo’atassem Tamimi and 20 Year-old Udai Tamimi told the court they were deprived of sleep and briefed before their interrogations on what to say. Nabi Saleh protest organizer, Bassem Tamimi, has been behind bars for over 8 months.

The trial of West Bank protest organizer from Nabi Saleh, Bassem Tamimi, resumed today at the Ofer Military Court, after the main prosecution witness – 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, testified yesterday contending that his testimony was given under duress.

First to take the stand today was 15 year-old Mo’atasem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, who was brought in wearing a prison uniform following his arrest last Thursday. When asked by the military prosecutor about what he had said during his interrogation regarding the demonstrations’ organizers , he replied by saying “I was beaten up and told ‘Incriminate him’, as well as shown photos.” The boy later told the court, “They forced me to incriminate him, told me ‘Say it was Bassem.'”

The 15 year-old’s interrogation, which was video-recorded, has the interrogator ordering the boy: “Tell us what happened […] and who in the village incited you to throw stones. […] (shouting) you were incited! You…. you are a young boy, Incited by people. Grownups, we know. It’s the grownups who incite you, right?” The interrogator is also seen saying “We are not making fun of you. We can see that you are a good boy and that you were incited by grownups. That is why you must tell us everything. Later, I will tell the officers that you complied and they will decide. OK?” Similar scenes repeat themselves throughout the recording.

Mo’atasem Tamimi, 15, was arrested at gunpoint in the middle of the night during a military raid on his house. He was interrogated the very next morning, without having been allowed sleep, nor granted the opportunity to have his father present during the questioning, despite obligated by law. The recording of his police interrogation, which lasted 4.5 hours, shows the boy repeatedly expressing fatigue and complaining about not having slept the previous night. The tape also shows that he was not properly informed of his right to remain silent.

The second witness, 20 year-old Udai Tamimi, also told the court that he was instructed to incriminate Bassem Tamimi, and that he was inclined to do so because of a family feud with him. He reiterated in court that Bassem Tamimi is the organizer of the demonstrations in the village – a fact that the defense does not deny – but attested to knowing that only through hearsay. “Everyone in the village talks about it”, he said when  asked how he knows they are the organizers. He also said, “They [the organizers] call for a peaceful demonstration, but we [the youth] refuse.”

Both Mo’atasem and Udai Tamimi alleged during their police interrogations that Bassem Tamimi has organized youth to throw stones. Udai Tamimi has recanted this statement already during his police interrogation, 10 months ago. Even according to the prosecution’s version, Udai Tamimi only participated in one demonstration.

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