Yesterday, 24 August 2015, the first hearing for witness testimonies in the trial of Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar was held. Three of the prosecution’s witnesses attended, and two presented their testimonies due to time constraints.
The two witnesses spoke about the conditions of which their confessions were obtained, including torture and ill treatment. Subsequently, the prosecution requested the witnesses to be held as “hostile witnesses” and the court accepted the request. This enabled the prosecution to cross-examine the witnesses and to claim that the confessions obtained initially were true, whereas the witnesses were making false statements in the courtroom.
The defense however was seeking to prove the opposite- that their initial confessions were flawed as they were obtained under duress. The witnesses spoke of pressure and ill-treatment during interrogation including sleep deprivation, being tied in painful stress positions for long hours, being threatened with further torture and with the arrest of family members. Additionally, it was brought to light that witnesses were banned from lawyer visits for long periods, indicating that their confessions were made without legal counseling. The next hearing for testimonies is set to 20 September 2015.