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Rasmea Odeh testifies, challenges prosecution lies

By Joe Iosbaker |
November 6, 2014
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Rasmea Odeh in front of Detroit court house Nov. 6. (FightBack!News/Staff)

Detroit, MI - Rasmea Odeh’s supporters were in high anticipation as they waited on line for Judge Drain’s court room to open this morning, Nov. 6. Everyone expected the high point of the trial to be when Rasmea Odeh took the stand to testify in her own defense.

Michael Deutsch, her lead attorney, began by asking her about herself. She told the story of the loss of her family home in Lifta, Palestine, when the Israeli army carried out the massacres known as al Nakba (The Catastrophe). These massacres of tens of thousands caused 700,000 Palestinians to flee their homes. Odeh has spent her life since 1948 as a refugee.

In 1967, her family had survived and she had grown into a young woman, starting college. Then Israel invaded the West Bank, and her family’s life in Ramallah was again turned upside down. Tanks rumbled through the streets of her town. Her sister was paralyzed and eventually died of the shock of the invasion.

In 1969, the Israeli occupation army arrested 500 people in one night after a bomb explosion in Jerusalem. Odeh was one of the victims of that indiscriminate round-up, but the military singled her out for horrible treatment: brutal torture and rape in order to force her to sign a false confession. Judge Drain censored her remarks any time she came close to talking about the treatment she suffered. When she said, “They convicted me falsely,” prosecutor Jonathan Tukel objected and wanted the sentence struck. The judge displayed a phony impartiality when he told Tukel he would let the sentence remain in the record, except for the word “falsely.”

In the overflow room, her supporters were brought to cheers when Deutsch asked her if she tried to escape. Odeh responded, “Yes, any political prisoner tries to escape.” The federal security in the room threatened to have all her supporters removed from the building if that happened again.

Prosecution case suffers blow

Deutsch brought the story up to date, questioning Odeh about her emigration to the U.S. The prosecution has focused on answers she gave in her immigration documents to questions about having been charged, tried and imprisoned. On Wednesday and again today, Nov. 6, the government had presented witnesses from the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They claimed she lied on her initial application for a visa.

Odeh delivered a blow to that allegation when she revealed that her brother in the U.S. had written the answers out for her to copy for that form, and had filled out some of the form himself. She said, “My English was terrible. I couldn’t read any of it. I copied from the form filled out by my brother.” Soon afterwards, Judge Drain called a recess, and said the questioning would continue in the morning.

When her supporters gathered across the street from the courthouse, their spirits were high. They departed, preparing for Friday, Nov. 7 when Odeh will complete her testimony and then face the cross examination by the prosecution. The tension will be even higher Nov. 7, when this political trial, masquerading as a criminal trial, continues.