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Saturday Nov. 6, 2010 11:40 AM (EST+7)
Plea deal 'only option' for activist Makhoul

Read more: Ameer Makhoul, Amir Makhoul, Hezbollah, spying, Arab-Israelis, Israeli-Arabs, prisoners, detainees

RAMALLAH, November 6 (JMCC) - The plea deal struck by the lawyers of activist Ameer Makhoul puts him in prison for seven to ten years. It was better than an almost certain conviction and a life sentence, says his family, for charges based on an ill-gotten confession.

Despite having examined almost a dozen computer hard drives and more than 30,000 phone conversations, Israel has relied entirely on Makhoul's confession as the basis for its indictment against him. And this confession, his lawyers and family say, was obtained under circumstances of torture.

The man was subjected to physical, mental and probably drug manipulation of his mind. They kept him on a very low chair with no back, and tied his legs and arms, and kept him in that position without sleep for 62 hours. The man was broken, Kanaaneh said.

All that the state has against Ameer is his admission. They could not find a single piece of evidence anywhere in the ten computers and 30,000 telephone conversations. They did not find a single bit of evidence to support their claim that he passed on information to anybody, he added.

Orna Kohn, one of Makhoul's lawyers from Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, explained that under Israeli law, the definition of what constitutes a security offense makes it easy for the state to convict someone of such crimes.

Israeli law defines so-called security offenses in a very broad way, which criminalize behaviors or actions which no one would expect to be included in such a clause of the criminal code. The result is that it is very easy for the state prosecution to convince the court that a person is guilty, Kohn said.

[With] these kinds of charges, especially in what is called 'being in touch with a foreign agent,' the burden of proof is shifted, Kohn added. So the defendant is the one who needs to convince the court that there was no intention to harm state security. The result is that once a person is indicted of such charges, it's almost impossible to be found not guilty.

Read the story at EI...






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