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Court upholds Hamas man´s admin. detention (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 05/10/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=269302 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a petition by a Palestinian detainee to overturn a military court ruling extending the administrative detention of a Palestinian Hamas activist.

Mahmoud Adib Mahmoud Masalani petitioned the High Court after the military court of appeals refused to overturn a military court ruling to extend his detention until May 27.

The panel of justices, Edna Arbel, Neal Handel and Zvi Zilbertal said that after a careful review of the evidentiary material, they believed Masalani posed a threat to regional security and to the public. Therefore, they said, the decision to extend his administrative detention was correct.

However, the justices added that should no further evidentiary material against Masalani be found, then the military court should consider his release.

Masalani, aged 38, is a Hamas activist who previously served 17 and a half years in prison for stabbing a border police officer in Jerusalem.

After his release in September 2010, Masalani returned to work for Hamas, the security forces said.

Masalani was re-arrested in April 2011, and when security officers interrogated him he denied the allegations.

At that time, the military court ruled to hold Masalani in administrative detention after the security services testified that classified intelligence reports indicated he posed a threat to regional security.

Since then, the military court has periodically ruled to extend Masalani´s administrative detention.

In the latest military court hearing in February, the court found that evidentiary material presented by the security services was reliable and indicated that, if released, Masalani posed a real danger to regional security and public safety.

In the petition, Masalani´s lawyer, attorney Jamil Khatib, complained that the military court routinely rejects appeals against administrative detention orders.

As Masalani´s defense counsel, Khatib requested permission to review the classified intelligence material concerning his client, in order to formulate a reasonable defense.

Khatib also told the High Court that Masalani was suffering from a psychiatric complaint, and that he wished to marry and live a normal life.

Khatib also asked the court why other more prominent individuals who were also involved in the activities attributed to Masalani had not been arrested.

Attorney Uri Keydar, for the state, argued that there was no place for the High Court to intervene in the military court ruling, because the security services had gathered reliable, classified intelligence regarding Masalani that provided the basis for assessing the risk he posed to regional security.

Administrative detention, the state argued, was the only effective way to prevent the serious danger the Masalani posed to the public and to regional security.

Wednesday´s ruling came days after the court also refused petitions by two hunger-striking detainees, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, which led to criticism from some human rights groups against Israel´s practice of administrative detention.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of a "backlash" should any of the detainees on hunger strike die.

In Wednesday´s ruling, the justices gave a thorough legal review of the administrative detention procedures and regulations, including the issue of secret evidence.

Arbel noted that the military court is empowered to order administrative detention under the 2007 Order Regarding Administrative Detentions (Temporary Order), which allows the commander of IDF forces in the region to order the detention of a person for a maximum of six months, if there was reasonable grounds to believe that regional security or public safety required it.

While detentions can be extended periodically, for no more than six months each time, the Order stipulates that this may only happen if deemed "essential for security reasons".

"The reason for administrative detention is to prevent future threats to state security or public safety," Arbel said, noting that this differed from usual criminal legal proceedings, which aimed to punish for past events.

The justice added that administrative detention is often based on evidentiary material, which, while justifying detention is not admissible as evidence in a criminal trial.

That evidentiary material, Arbel said, is frequently classified defense material that cannot be revealed to the detainee or to his counsel, because to do so could compromise either state security or that of intelligence sources.

While that does make it difficult for a detainee to mount a defense, Arbel said the High Court has previously found that secret evidence is a necessary tool.

Arbel added that the High Court routinely reviews the classified material used as the basis for administrative detentions, with "care and attention to the necessary balance between protecting the public and national security, and the detainee´s freedom and dignity." (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/10/12)

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