Court Notes July 11 2004 Vanunu trial
Fredrik S. HEFFERMEHL, observer
Today I have been attending the oral argument in Vanunu´s petition to have the restrictions imposed on him declared null and void. This was a hearing in the Supreme Court of Israel, in Jerusalem.
The language was Hebrew with no transation, so the following notes are based on what I was able to pick up in the intermissions, which were, indeed, long.
The court was open 12 minutes in the beginning, and 15 minutes in the end. In the closed sessions, almost 2 1/2 hours, the state presented evidence and witnesses, which neither Vanunu nor his lawyers were permitted to follow. Vanunu noticed that one former colleague, an engineer from Dimona, was in court in this period.
In a 15 minutes session with Vanunu and his lawyers only, the focus was on a notebook Vanunu wrote in prison in 1991. This book shows how precise his recollection is, the State held, and that he can reproduce it any time.
The problem is that what he can reproduce is no secret and cannot harm Israeli national security.
If the judges should go along with this reasoning, the consequence would be that Mordechai cannot be given his full freedom untill he has lost his mind and memory, a preposterous idea and proposition. And meaningless also because he is now seeing so many people and has such an amount of freedom that he could reveal secrets any time - if he had wished to do so - and had had any.
Under the Covenant on Civil and Political rights states may make exceptions for reasons of national security - but they have to specify and explain such reasons and they cannot envoke as harmful secrets something which is already published and known.
My comment - If the judges should go along with depriving Mordechai for his rights on the basis that he has a good memory, his situation will be the same in 2 weeks, 2 years, 2 decades. So, the decision now is crucial for his future.
The good thing is that the high Court took a full hearing now and did not postpone its decision until a later hearing.
Mordehai Vanunu in Supreme Court of Israel, July 11, 2004
Judges Barak, Massa, Cheshin,
To deal with petition lodged to have restrictions on freedom declared null and void
Lawyers representing Vanunu: Dan Yakir, Oded Feller
Court set to open at 0900 - Judges appeared at 0930
Judges closed the ourt after 12 minutes, declaring that the key issue is whether Vanunu has further secrets - this will be discussed with only his lawyers present (for the most part not even they, i.e. the judges will listen to the State present witnesses and arguments without Vanunu present or represented in any way). It is not only a question of keeping the secrets, but also secrets about the secrets, since the State does not wish to reveal its sources for the information.
Court closed at 0942 - proeeding to resume around 1130.
This situation, that the Court is hearing the State and seeing State evidence without the defendant or defense lawyers present is very common in Israel, it happens on a regular basis also with Palestinian defendants says Oded Feller in intermission (1130 - and neither he nor anybody else knows when the Court will be open again)
At 1240 Vanunu and one (just one) of his lawyers, Yakir, are called back into Court (there is disCussion of a notebook Vanunu wrote in prison around 1991, with details of Dimona).
The judge said that according to the newspapers the knowledge Vanunu has is dated and that he can no longer pose a threat. To this the attorney of the state, Shein Nitzan, replied: The State of Israel would not consider restrictions if Vanunu did not have secrets and was a danger to the state. So, his logic was that if the state has a position it means that it is justified. (The State is always right - so what do we need courts for??)
Then at 1 pm there is a new open Court, with pleadings and summaries, whereafter the judge (Barak) declares that the Court has heard the parties and that a decision will be announced soon.
Yakir says after session that he has no idea what "soon" will mean is this case.
Supreme Court of Jerusalem, July 11, 2004