Protesters hold up posters calling for the release of Khalida Jarrar. (MaanImages/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Two witnesses giving testimony at Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar's first witness hearing on Monday told the court that their confessions were obtained through "torture and ill treatment" by Israeli forces, a Palestinian prisoners' rights group said.
Addameer said in a press release Tuesday that due to time constraints only two witnesses testified at the hearing, which had been previously postponed three times after the military prosecution repeatedly failed to bring the witnesses to court.
"The two witnesses spoke about the conditions of which their confessions were obtained, including torture and ill treatment," the rights group said.
The prosecution, which had called the witnesses forward, then requested that they be held as "hostile witnesses."
This allowed them to cross-examine the witnesses and "claim that the confessions obtained initially were true, whereas the witnesses were making false statements in the courtroom," Addameer said.
However, Jarrar's lawyer argued that their initial confessions were flawed as they were "obtained under duress."
According to Addameer, the witnesses spoke of "pressure and ill-treatment during interrogation including sleep deprivation, being tied in painful stress positions for long hours, being threatened with further torture and with the arrest of family members."
The rights group added that it was also "brought to light that witnesses were banned from lawyer visits for long periods, indicating that their confessions were made without legal counseling."
The next hearing for testimonies was set for Sept. 20.'Right to a just trial'
Jarrar, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, earlier this month marked four months behind bars.
She was detained from her home in Ramallah on April 2, and initially sentenced to six months' administrative detention, although international pressure later forced the Israeli authorities to bring 12 charges against her, focused on her political activism.
The trial has already dragged on for weeks, with three previous witness hearings postponed after witnesses failed to show up.
Mahmoud Hassan, director of Addameer's legal unit, accused the military prosecution of failing to take the necessary steps to have the witnesses brought to the court.
"Failure to bring the witnesses prolongs Jarrar’s detention, exhausts her and her family, and undermines her right to have a just trial," he said on August 11, after the third postponement.
He said that a detention order that the court issued for one of the witnesses had not been acted on, and that the Israeli authorities had failed to bring a witness being held in an Israeli jail.
If convicted, the political leader, rights activist, and feminist could spend up to two years in prison.
Her case has brought outcry across both Palestine and Israel, with Palestinian and Israeli rights groups calling for her release.
Addameer described her arrest as "vengeful, arbitrary and political, with an aim to punish her for her political opinions and activism for Palestinian human rights," while Human Rights Watch has said that "her case is rife with due process violations."