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Corrie family appeals decision allowing soldiers to testify behind screen

10 October 2010 | Rachel Corrie Foundation

For Immediate Release

Lawyers for the family of Rachel Corrie filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday, challenging a decision to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed against the State of Israel for the unlawful killing of the American peace activist in Rafah, Gaza.

State attorneys made the highly unusual request in court on Thursday, October 7 arguing that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon granted the request, ruling that all but two soldiers, who were both already known to the public, would be permitted to provide their testimony hidden from public view.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the fundamental right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They argued that the government request was based on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, was not supported by concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security. The lawyers will also ask the Supreme Court to review Judge Gershon’s decision not to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not.

Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who represents the Corrie family, stated:

“An open and transparent judicial process is the only way to guarantee a fair trial. There is no reason why these soldiers should testify behind a screen. The government’s request is a shameless attempt to add a cloud of secrecy to civil trial and shield the soldiers from the discomfort of telling the truth in an open court.”

Attorneys for the family requested urgent review of the appeal and decision made, prior to October 17, when testimony of the next soldier in the case is anticipated to resume.

Subsequent hearings are scheduled for October 17,18 and 21 between the hours of 9:00-16:00 before Judge Oded Gershon at the Haifa, District Court, 12 Palyam St., Haifa, Israel.