[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
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