Israeli Judge Again Postpones Release Decision of Rivka Meirchik


(this came in an email from Datya Itzhaki)

On June 1, Kfar Saba Magistrate Nitza Maimon Shashua scheduled yet another hearing for a decision on the release of Rivka Meirchik despite an earlier decision by Petah Tikva District Court Judge Ruth Lorch that her arrest and detention are illegal.. [The hearing on June 1 was originally scheduled for May 29 but was postponed after chief police prosecutor Shir Laufer said she was vacationing in Eilat.]

Meirchik, who remained handcuffed and shackled in leg-irons throughout the hearing, has refused to be handcuffed inside the Neve Tirza prison where she is kept in solitary confinement and denied visitation and telephone rights. Prison authorities have also denied her the right from meeting with her attorney in her cell.

After the hearing, prison guard Orit Hasidi speeded Meirchik out of the courtroom into a waiting prison van despite the judge's order to allow her to meet with defense attorney Aviad Visoly.

Earlier, police at the Kfar Saba court barred friends from entering the open court session after they said that Tzvia Sariel, who earlier this year spent three months in prison in similar circumstances, was provocative. The judge later agreed to admit her.

Meirchik, who appeared gaunt, managed to convey to family members that she was hungry.

"My sister is very allergic and can only eat certain foods," Rivka's sister Racheli said. "We, the family, hired the attorney, because we want to see Rivka released. Why is there so much foot-dragging and why does it [judicial process] take so long?"

Meirchik, like Sariel, has refused to accept the authority of the court including agreeing to police conditions for her release and is being held until the end of judicial proceedings.

"According to the police release sheet, the reason for her arrest was that she refused to identify herself," Visoly said. "There was no other cause."

Visoly said the police arrest record shows that Meirchik, arrested at the Shvut Ami Jewish community near Kedumim on April 2, was arrested for failing to identify herself and not for committing any other offenses. Only later, Visoly said, police charged Meirchik with trespassing, disturbing and assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and violating a military closure order.

"The arresting officer did not follow protocol when he failed to identify himself or explain [to Meirchik] that she was arrested and for what reason," Visoly said. "According to paragraph 24 of the criminal code, this arrest was illegal. And in the case of an illegal arrest, the suspect has a right to resist."

The Petah Tikva District Court also deemed Meirchik's arrest and incarceration illegal for another reason. She was imprisoned and ordered held until the end of judicial proceedings before the prosecution presented any evidence against her.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 5 at the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court.

The major Israeli media, particularly the state-operated radio and television, did not mention a word of this travesty of justice. So, we must turn to you, lovers of Israel, who were so effective in the case of Tzvia Sariel and who, thanks to your efforts was released from jail, and ask that you act to help defend Jewish rights in Israel.

As a first step, we request that you telephone -- rather than e-mail -- the Israeli Embassy or the Israeli consulate nearest you and demand to know why Rivka is still in prison. The embassy's phone number is 202-364-5500.Stress, that as an American citizen, you can ask the State Department to investigate what you feel is clearly a human rights violation.

Now, we are asking you to call your member of Congress and raise the issue of Rivka Meirchik. We also ask you to call the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and inform them of Rivka and demand an investigation. Tell the department officer you have also raised Rivka's case with your member of Congress. The State Department's mainnumbers are 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339.

The Olmert government, with an approval rating of near zero, has refused any accountability to the Israeli people and fears only the Bush administration. Unless we act now, there will be many more Rivkas in jail.

If you agree with this, please act quickly. What could be more important than winning the release of a Jewish child imprisoned for loving her country and people?

We also urgently need your help to pressure the office of President Shimon Peres this week to pardon Dani and Itzik Halamish who are innocent of any crime but are sitting in prison.

Please contact the military attaché at the Israeli Embassy [telephone: 202-364-5500] and ask to speak to the military attaché. Express your outrage that the Israel Army abandoned its fighters for protecting Jews. Don't argue. The military attache's office knows exactly what you're talking about. Stress that you are an American citizen whose support for the Israeli military is based on its protection of Jews. Say that you also plan to discuss this case with your member of Congress who decides on U.S. military aid to Israel.

You can also fax the president's office at: (011 972) 2 567 1314.

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