[Ppnews] Muhammad Salah Case - Defense Rests

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 8 11:16:04 EST 2007


Hamas-case defense rests

Bridgeview man's attorneys again suggest his confession was coerced

By Rudolph Bush
Tribune staff reporter

January 5, 2007

Defense attorneys for a Bridgeview man accused of 
being a leading member of the Palestinian 
extremist group Hamas rested their case in 
federal court Thursday after again putting the 
issue of torture squarely before jurors.

The trial of Muhammad Salah has hinged largely on 
whether he voluntarily confessed to Israeli 
authorities in 1993 that he was Hamas' military 
commander or if he was tortured into complying 
with whatever demands his captors made.

A Turkish psychiatrist, Dr. Metin Basoglu, sought 
to bolster the defense argument Thursday with 
testimony that anyone who suffers prolonged 
mistreatment at the hands of interrogators is 
"very likely" to comply with their demands.

An expert on the trauma of torture, Basoglu had 
no firsthand knowledge of Salah's treatment by Israeli interrogators.

Testifying via video from Istanbul, Basoglu said 
people with deep commitments to political or 
military causes are less likely than ordinary 
people to break quickly under torturous conditions.

"Would a militant commander of a resistance group 
immediately cooperate and continue to cooperate 
over a period of 54 days while being interrogated 
by military police?" defense attorney Erica 
Thompson asked, referring to the length of time Salah was under interrogation.

Basoglu could not answer the question after U.S. 
District Judge Amy St. Eve sustained a prosecution objection.

Still, he spoke for more than two hours about the 
effects of torture on the human mind.

Basoglu's testimony touched on many of the 
techniques Salah's lawyers claim were used to 
extract a confession that led to his conviction 
and 4-year imprisonment in Israel.

Such methods as sleep deprivation, hooding and 
being forced to sit handcuffed in a child-size 
chair were legal techniques in Israel during the 
time of Salah's detention, defense attorneys told jurors.

Prosecutors stipulated that those methods were indeed legal at the time.

Earlier in the trial, two Israeli interrogators 
who questioned Salah testified that he was 
treated well and provided detailed, high-level 
information about Hamas that was corroborated by other sources.

Before court opened Thursday morning, Salah and 
his co-defendant, Abdelhaleem Ashqar of suburban 
Washington D.C., greeted a long line of 
supporters waiting outside St. Eve's courtroom.

Smiling and seemingly confident, both men shook 
hands with friends, many of them young Muslim men 
and women, and thanked them for coming to view the proceedings.

Many of them said the defendants are gentle 
family men who have been falsely accused of being members of Hamas.

Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organization 
whose charter calls for the destruction of 
Israel. The group has been responsible for dozens 
of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks 
in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Prosecutors charge that Salah used his U.S. 
citizenship as cover to transport hundreds of 
thousands of dollars to the West Bank and Gaza 
for use by the military wing of Hamas.

They also allege he tried to recruit and train new Hamas members in the U.S.

Ashqar, who was educated in the U.S. but is not a 
citizen, is accused of acting as a sort of 
switchboard for Hamas, connecting members with 
one another over the telephone and passing along 
information. Prosecutors also charge that he was 
a Hamas archivist who collected and stored key documents.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled to 
begin Monday, with prosecutors pointing to 
evidence they will argue proves Salah was a high-ranking member of Hamas.

They are expected to refer jurors back to a trail 
of money transfers between Salah and other alleged Hamas members.

Salah's attorneys, meanwhile, are likely to 
return to arguments made in opening statements 
nearly four months ago--that Salah was taking 
money to the West Bank and Gaza to ameliorate the 
suffering of people living under Israeli occupation.


rrbush at tribune.com

Copyright © 2007, 
<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/southsouthwest//>Chicago Tribune

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