PNN has reported on Monday that the Ofer Military Court will deliver its sentence in the case of non-violent activist Bassem Tamimi on Tuesday, May 29.Tamimi, a grass-root organizer from the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah in the West Bank, was granted bail last month after spending 13 months in prison under charges related to protest-organizing. His conviction last week led to criticism by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who was concerned about the fact that the evidence against Tamimi came from a testimony of a minor who was ‘interrogated in violation of his rights’ in the first place.
Although aquitted on the central charge that was brought against him last week, he was found guilty of organizing illegal marches and encouraging the throwing of stones. Regardless of the criticism of various international actors, the Military Prosecution still petitioned for Tamimi to be sentenced to a period longer than 18 months.
The indictment against Tamimi was based mainly on the testimonies of three youths from the village, and most heavily relied on the testament of a 14 year old, Islam Dar Ayyoub. The statement of Islam was ruled unreliable and so the incitement charge was dropped. The testimony of a 19 year old was also unreliable as the recording and the transcript of his interrogation varied.
Tamimi’s conviction was therefore based on the testimony of a 15 year old who was questioned in an unlawful manner as he was led to believe that by accusing others, he would get lenient treatment in court himeself.
International interest now revolves around Tamimi’s case as it represents the use of a military court to repress civil resistance to the occupation, and on the treatment of minors. Tamimi was acknowledged as a human rights defender by the EU and pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International following his arrest. Furthermore, many diplomats from Germany, Ireland and the UN were present at his verdict.
Throughout Tamimi’s trial, new evidence surfaced that highlighted repression of civil resistance by Israel’s military occupation. A commander’s verification of disproportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrators, which is against international law, is one example. Another is a police interrogator who questioned witnesses against Tamimi and who admitted that in his 25 years as an officer he could not recall a situation in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning, a right also guaranteed under international law.