Thursday, August 07, 2008

Female Land of Israel Activist Freed After 4 Months

Hillel Fendel

Rivka Meirchik, arrested during a violent eviction from a Jewish neighborhood in Samaria, was freed on Wednesday after spending four months in jail. The 29-year-old woman, a resident of Kiryat Ata near Haifa, was arrested during one of the violent evictions of the Shvut Ami startup neighborhood, near Shilo, over four months ago. Like others before her, she refused to recognize the authority of a Jewish court system in the Land of Israel that itself refuses to recognize Jewish rights to the Land.

Meirchik therefore did not post a bond guaranteeing her presence at future court sessions, nor did she cooperate in any way with the legal system.

The court system responded in kind, refusing to release her from prison, refusing at least once to set a future court date, and occasionally holding her in solitary confinement without visitation and phone rights.

Nearly a month ago, Kfar Saba Magistrates Court Judge Clara Rejenino handed down the verdict: Guilty of trespassing and of attacking - biting - the policeman who arrested her.

After 3 Months, Judge Takes 1 Month to Write 2-Month Sentence
Inexplicably, says Attorney Aviad Visouly, who represented Meirchik for parts of the legal proceedings, the judge took nearly a full month to write the sentence - "despite knowing that Rivka had already been in prison for three months, and that the sentence was only two months!"

Visouly told IsraelNationalNews that Meirchik can, if she wants, demand compensation for wrongful imprisonment for the two extra months she sat in prison. He added that had she been found innocent, she would not have been able to demand this.

No Restrictions on Return to Yesha
Public Defender Attorney Aliza Kashkash-Uzeri, who also represented Meirchik, said the judge issued no punishment for the trespassing clause. In other similar cases, the defendants have been restricted from returning for various periods to areas of Judea and Samaria.

Visouly said that Meirchik's rights were continually violated, in that she was not brought to court often enough, and because the Supreme Court did not act quickly enough to accept his appeal regarding wrongful imprisonment.

Meirchik followed the pattern set by previous arrestees in the struggle for the Land of Israel - most notably mother-of-ten Ettie Medad, whose husband Shmuel Medad heads the Honenu Legal Rights Organization. Ettie spent 25 days in prison in 2005. In addition, teenager Tzviya Sariel spent nearly four months in prison this year, and several ulpana yeshiva high school girls were imprisoned for a month shortly before that. All were arrested while engaging in pro-Land of Israel activities.

None of the above agreed to recognize the courts' right to try them on charges related to supporting the Land of Israel, and they were ultimately freed from prison after their cases were widely publicized.

Jerusalem-based Human Rights activist Irving Gendelman sharply criticized the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court for its handling of the Meirchik case. He noted that the "Judge sent Rivka Meirchik to jail for another month deeming her refusal to cooperate with the Police 'an idealogical crime.' This represents a most bizarre statement absent of any legal or judicial authority but rather a statement lacking judicial acumen frought with political overtones."

In a letter to the Minister of Justice, Gendelman added, "This cruel and unusual punishment before any indictment may have been brought about because she refused to cooperate with the police. Again, it is apparent that the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court judges are ill-equipped to understand a basic concept embedded in democratic societies: namely, the right against self incrimination. If there is an allegation of a commission of a crime, it is for the prosecution to bring all evidence against the alleged offender. The alleged offender does not have to cooperate in the process."

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