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Al-Arian defense draws attention to Israeli actions

The defense isn't supposed to talk about violence against Palestinians, but that's what it brought to jurors' attention by focusing on translation errors.

Published October 7, 2005

TAMPA - A defense attorney at the trial of Sami Al-Arian and three co-defendants used evidence submitted Thursday by prosecutors to tell a small piece of the Israeli-Palestinian story from the Palestinian perspective.

Before the trial, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody agreed with prosecutors that defense attorneys couldn't talk about violence against Palestinians because the case is about whether defendants raised money to further Palestinian violence against Israelis, not the reverse.

But assistant public defender Wadie Said saw a rare opportunity to call jurors' attention to the other side - Israeli violence against Palestinians - and jumped on it.

Federal prosecutor Terry Zitek entered into evidence the temporary computer files of defendant Hatem Fariz by asking an FBI translator if the information was "a fair and accurate translation from the Arabic to the English." With each answer of yes, another document was submitted. Then, on cross-examination, Said focused on minute errors in the translations to tell jurors about the persecution of Palestinians.

Said asked the translator: "Here, where it says, "The enemy's army killed 15 children under 18 during the last two weeks, eight in the West Bank and seven in Gaza, as a result of shooting and tank projectiles ... while they were coming back from their Schools,' did you mean to capitalize "Schools?"'

When the translator responded that he made a mistake, Said then flipped to another page and asked him: "Here, where it says a 4-month-old Palestinian child was killed, did you mean to repeat the name?"

Said asked the Lebanese translator if he knew about the 1992 Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, but Moody stopped the defense attorney, ruling that the information was "beyond the scope" of the evidence.

But Said made a quick comeback, reading from yet another document in evidence: "Here it says, "UNICEF is witnessing the mistreatment of Palestinian children in Zionist detention.' Shouldn't you have said, "UNICEF is witnessing the mistreatment of Palestinian children in Zionist camps?"'

When the translator agreed with Said, the defense attorney thanked him.

[Last modified October 7, 2005, 01:49:15]

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