Jerais Jerais
Jerais Jerais in court in 2006. Photo by Itzik Ben-Malki
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The state will compensate a man convicted of contacting Iranian agents, after Haifa Magistrate's Court ruled last week that he had been detained even after he had completed his prison sentence.

The man had won an appeal against the state when a Nazareth court ruled authorities had violated a plea bargain by opposing his early release at the parole committee. Compensation has been set at NIS 30,000.

Jerais Jerais, a former head of the local council of the village of Fassuta in western Galilee and a Fatah activist, was indicted in 2006 for espionage and delivering information to the enemy while meeting with Iranian agents in Cyprus.

During the trial, the prosecution and Jerais' attorney Edgar Dakwar agreed on a plea bargain in which Jerais admitted to being in contact with a foreign agent. He received a prison sentence of 34 months.

The state agreed to support Jerais in the parole committee and not oppose the reduction of his sentence by a third should that possibility be considered. Haifa District Court approved the plea deal, and the indictment was amended accordingly. Jerais' prison sentence was considered to have begun on the date of his arrest, December 12, 2005, and if it was to be reduced by a third, would end on September 12, 2007.

However, the parole committee that met in October 2007 opposed the early release, based on a statement by the Shin Bet security service, which said Jerais' early release would endanger state security. Dakwar appealed to the District Court for Administrative Affairs in Nazareth.

The court upheld the appeal, with Judge Menachem Ben David ruling that the Shin Bet opinion did not contain information specific to the prisoner. It also said that the organization's opposition to the early release was an unfounded general assumption. Jerais was released on December 3, 2007, 81 days after his anticipated release date. In a lawsuit submitted to Haifa Magistrate's Court shortly afterwards, he claimed that the state had violated an agreement with him and demanded NIS 425,000 in compensation for lost workdays, legal expenses and mental stress.

The state argued that even if it did diverge from the agreement with Jerais, it did so in accordance with rules applicable to a governing authority, following consultations with the prosecution and security authorities, and for the security of the state and its citizens.

Judge Yoav Friedman upheld the lawsuit while limiting compensation to NIS 30,000. Jerais' lawyer said he was satisfied with the verdict but would consider appealing in district court on the compensation sum.