The Courts Administration criticized a Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court judge for using “unfortunate” language when described a suspect who was appearing before him on a bail hearing as “living in a fantasyland.”
The suspect, Ihab Sabah, a West Bank Palestinian from a city near Hebron, was suspected of being in Israel illegally, but the case became more complicated when he allegedly claimed to be four different people.
“My impression is that the defendant is using a double identity and apparently thinks he’s living in a fantasyland,” Judge George Amoraee said two weeks ago in his decision to deny bail.
Sabah is accused of being in Israel illegally, posing as another individual and interfering with a policeman in the line of duty. He allegedly used four different identities while under interrogation, even though his fingerprints confirmed his identity. A police representative also told the court the suspect initially claimed to be 14, although he is 19. As a result of Sabah’s conduct, police added impersonation and interfering with a policeman to their initial allegation that the Palestinian was in Israel illegally.
Police originally sought to hold Sabah for five days, but ultimately came to an agreement with his public defender, Muhamed Abu Obaid, to limit his detention to three days. Judge Amoraee accepted the agreement, but added that Sabah “apparently thinks he’s living in a fantasyland” but should “know this game carries a price.”
In response, the Courts Administration issued a statement saying in part: “The comments were indeed unfortunate and could have been phrased differently, and we regret this.”