Israeli Parole Board Rejects Petition by Palestinian Prisoner With Alibi

Sultan Hamidat was accused of throwing rocks at security forces 'in June 2019 or thereabouts,' even though he was in an Israeli prison until July 28

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File photo: Palestinians walk next to a concrete wall at the Ofer Military Court, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank.
File photo: Palestinians walk next to a concrete wall at the Ofer Military Court, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in the West Bank.Credit: Sebastian Scheiner / AP
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

The Israel Prisons Service parole board rejected an early release petition by a Palestinian prisoner who claims that he was in prison in Israel while the crime of which he was convicted took place. The board did not discuss Sultan Jumat Hassan Hamidat’s claim, and determined that he is still dangerous, having been convicted of throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at Israeli forces.

Hamidat was in prison in Israel from March 13th to July 28th of 2019, and took a deal to plead guilty to throwing rocks at security forces “In June 2019 or thereabouts.”

The Israeli military explained the error in the wording of the indictment, saying that “the offense was committed in June or July.” The military tribunal also convicted him in May of this year of throwing Molotov cocktails at a military guard tower near the West Bank settlement of Beit El in 2018. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 25 months in prison.

Last month Hamidat filed for early release, on grounds of gross miscarriage of justice. His attorney Michal Pomerantz said that he plead guilty under pressure by his trial lawyer, and that he should be released on grounds of abuse of process. She said he pleaded guilty to the deeds having been incriminated by others, only to reach a deal.

The board noted that it is not authorized to deal with Hamidat’s claim, and that by law he can be released only if he proves to be worthy of release and that the danger posed by him has decreased during incarceration.

The board accepted the position of the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service, that he has not abandoned the ideological motives that led to the acts of which he was convicted. Pomerantz intends to file an administrative petition to the District Court against the parole board’s decision.

The board members criticized the attorney’s request for a release on grounds of abuse of process, and wrote that “She would have been better served by choosing the proper procedural venue rather than hurling insults at professional board members doing their jobs meticulously.” At the hearing on Hamidat’s request this month, state’s counsel Carrie Casa said that defense counsel’s comments “undermine the political regime in the country.”

At the tribunal’s request, the Military Advocate General stated last week that at no point during the investigation, plea negotiations, or trial, did Hamidat claim to have been elsewhere. A response by Erez Rajouan, deputy advocate for the Judea and Samaria Division, stated that the prosecution examined the evidence once again after the appeal by the new attorney, and found that “The text of the indictment of which the prisoner has been convicted matches the evidence.” Hamidat was represented in court by a previous lawyer, whom he replaced ahead of the release petition.

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