More jail terms for Gaza protesters

Police hide video evidence from defence lawyers. Two more youngsters charged with violent disorder during last year’s protests against Israel’s two-week massacre of the Gazan people have been handed harsh jail terms.  Judge Denniss at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced Scott McPherson to two years and Yahia Tebani to 12 months. Ibrahim Obeseyah received a 12-month suspended sentence and 150 hours unpaid work.  Four other hearings also took place with two cases being adjourned until late April. The verdict of the others had not been confirmed as the Star went to press.  Protesters gathered inside and outside the court to show solidarity with the families of the defendants.

The defendants’ families stressed that, despite the abundance of CCTV footage, the police brutality which provoked the reaction of protesters had been ignored when the sentences were handed out.  Mr McPherson has been forced to leave his five-month-old son and, like Mr Tebani, is unable to continue with his university studies.  His mother Linda McPherson said: “He was demonstrating at the Israeli embassy standing up for the people of Gaza and the police were antagonistic and violent.

“A year later he was out shopping and undercover police came from all directions and pounced on him and then arrested him.

“Regardless of what this country says, you have not got freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate and protest against what’s happening in other parts of the world.” Mr Tebani was 17 at the time he was captured on CCTV throwing a stick in the direction of police guarding the embassy.
His brother Hamza said: “We have lost faith in the law, this is how I feel.  “Nobody mentioned anything about why he took a stick and waved it. No-one spoke about injured people being refused through police lines to get to the ambulance.”

One-hundred-and-nineteen predominantly young Muslims were arrested after the protests. Seventy-nine have since been charged and so far 24 have been sent to prison. The sentencing of the remaining defendants continues.

The British Muslim Initiative has instructed a lawyer to take the cases to appeal.

President Mohamad Sawalha said: “They are damaging the idea of cohesion. The Muslim community is really feeling very angry against these charges because it’s not acceptable that a young Muslim or non-Muslim who just threw an empty bottle at the police is sentenced to two years.”

“The judge admitted in his summing-up of each of the cases that MEMO sat through that none of the young men had set out deliberately to cause any trouble and he accepted that none of the misconduct had been premeditated. He made reference to the fact that no weapons had been brought from home and that no disguises, such as balaclavas, had been worn and that essentially they had all just got caught up in the events of the day. He made the point that there seemed to be a type of “mass-hysteria” afflicting the crowd and that the protesters simply got caught up in the events”

Yet despite this, he saw fit to use a tariff of sentencing devised by the Judges in the Bradford Riots.

We have already learnt that Jake Smith reacted after he was beaten by the cops, who then tried to suppress the evidence of his beating.

It was precisely because most of the young defendants have no history of attending protests and seeing how the cops routinely behave, that they find themselves in the dock. Had they more experience, they may well have been able to get a better defence than the old line of “its on video you might as well plead guilty to avoid a harsh sentence”. The police provocation that played a major part in setting off many of the incidents was not taken into account.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s