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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Matar indictment thrown out as 'political'

In what has to be a first in Israel, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court today nullified as 'political,' an indictment of Women in Green founder Nadia Matar for a letter she wrote to disengagement expulsion authority chairman Yonatan Bassi. You can bet that Magistrate's Court Judge David Mintz, who had the gumption to challenge the State Prosecutor's office, will not be nominated for the Supreme Court anytime soon.
The indictment against Women in Green chief Matar claimed that she had violated the ban on "insulting a public servant" when she compared Bassi to the Judenrat by agreeing to take part in the expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and Shomron.

“On September 19, 2004," the indictment states, "the accused faxed a letter to Disengagement Authority chief Yonatan Bassi at his home stating, inter alia: ‘…All your declarations won’t help, Yonatan. The truth is that you are the modern version of the Judenrat, and truly a much more terrible version, because during the Holocaust, the task was forced upon the Jewish leadership by the Nazis, and it is very difficult for us today to judge them. Today, there is nobody standing with a gun to your head focing you to collaborate with the deportation of the Jews of Gush Katif and northern Samaria…’ ”

Israel's Attorney General, as head of the State Prosecutor's office, is assigned the power to decide whether or not an indictment is lodged against an accused citizen. After the text of the letter was widely publicized in the media, AG Menachem Mazuz announced that Matar would be indicted.


Jerusalem Magistrates Court Justice David Mintz ordered the indictment expunged Sunday, explaining, “I am relying, in my decision, on the statement of the Attorney General himself, who said, ‘Criminal law cannot be the answer to all the ills of Israeli society.’ Unrestrained criticism is, to our sorrow, a day-to-day part of the Israeli reality… Any time we are dealing with freedom of speech, criminal law does not present the correct and effective tool. I am therefore ordering the erasing of the charge.”

Matar received vocal support from Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Yisrael Aumann, and 2,146 people re-sent copies of her letter with their names affixed to the bottom – daring the Attorney General to file indictments against them as well.

Representing Matar was prominent attorney Yoram Sheftel. In his opening statement in the trial (the full text of which can be read by clicking here), Sheftel summed up his approach: that the prosecution was engaging in "selective law enforcement founded on invalid political considerations and/or on cowardice."
The prosecution has forty-five days to appeal.

Read the whole thing.

Previously on Israel Matzav:

Rightist indicted over Nazi Slur

Free speech for me, but not for thee

More selective law enforcement


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