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Successful outcome in Swedish peace activist’s legal appeal against Israeli sentence banning him from Palestine

20 August 2010

On Thursday 12 August 2010 Swedish peace activist Marcus Regnander’s legal battle with the Police Department of Hebron ended successfully. His appeal against a sentence which banned him from the West Bank for six months, after being convicted – despite the absence of any evidence – of assaulting a soldier, was filed at the District Court in Jerusalem.

Regnander, a nursing student from Gothenburg, was arrested at the Tel Rumedia checkpoint on the night of July 20th, accused of having assaulted a soldier during a demonstration nine days before. He maintained throughout that he was completely innocent of any crime and according to several witnesses the charges against him were completely fabricated. However he was taken to an Israeli jail where he spent three days.

During his imprisonment Regnander was not given any information about his own case, was not allowed to make or receive phone calls, and was never given the opportunity to present any evidence of his innocence. In all he spent three nights and a total of 60 hours in police custody, during which time he was given only two meals. Regnander said that he was not allowed to sleep properly because Israeli guards kept turning on lights, yelling and “pushing me in different directions”.

His first court appearance, within 24 hours of his arrest, saw the judge presiding over the trial at the Court of Peace in Jerusalem note the absence of evidence presented against him – but instead of throwing the case out, instead granted the police more time to investigate, ordering that Regnander be held in custody for a further 48 hours. Following the judge’s ruling he was led away in handcuffs and shackled at the ankles.

The second trial was held on July 23rd in a Hebrew-speaking court, with no translator provided. Israeli activists who came to the court to help translate were not let in. Regnander did not understand the proceedings and when he signed conditions stating that he could not be in the West Bank for 180 days or within 500 metres of a checkpoint “for the security of soldiers” he did so because he thought he had no choice.

On appeal, his lawyer Lymor Goldstein raised these judicial violations and before the case was heard Regnander accepted a new offer from the court that said he could return to the West Bank (but not to Area A or Area H2 in Hebron, or to attend any ‘illegal demonstrations’.) Regnander views this as a vindication of his innocence and a victory over the unjust Israeli justice system. He commented: “I’m glad to be back in the West Bank, but the most important thing about my appeal is that we broke the general trend. This success should prevent Israeli occupation forces arresting peace activists on fabricated charges again.”

ISM have launched an appeal for funds to help cover lawyers’ expenses for court cases as Israeli forces increasingly try to deter international activists by manipulating the legal system.