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Rasmea Odeh court hearing, Judge Borman refuses to step down

By Tom Burke |
August 1, 2014
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Detroit picket line in support of Rasmea Odeh
Detroit picket line in support of Rasmea Odeh (Photo by Bill Chambers)

Detroit, MI - As Rasmea Odeh appeared at the U.S. Court in Detroit here July 31, 120 supporters made a long picket line near the front steps. The crowd held big posters with Odeh’s photo saying, “I support Rasmea!” A number of large white SUVs from the Department of Homeland Security, with armed men loitering around them, lined the streets near the picket. Still, that could not stop Rasmea Odeh from smiling brightly as people chanted for dropping the case against her.

Organizers and activists came from Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and other Michigan cities and college towns. The young people led chants of, “Rasmea Odeh is under attack! What do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

The U.S. government is putting Rasmea Odeh on trial in Detroit on Sept. 8. Prosecutor Tukel is claiming she committed fraud by not writing about her arrest, torture and imprisonment by the Israeli military in 1969. Odeh lives in Chicago and has been a U.S. citizen for ten years, but now she is being targeted and threatened with ten years imprisonment and deportation. Friends and supporters are pointing towards her popular and award winning organizing of Arab American women as the reason for U.S. government attention now.

After speeches outside by Palestinian American, Muslim and anti-war leaders, supporters filed in and packed the courtroom, with several supporters denied access to the crowded courtroom.

Judge Borman, appearing anxious, admitted to having just finished writing a response to the defense lawyers’ call for him to step down from the trial due to his financial and material aid to Israel. Defense attorneys are arguing Borman cannot possibly judge a trial fairly when he is politically, financially and emotionally invested. Judge Borman said he did not agree and would not recuse himself.

Borman then addressed defense motions and was visibly confused. The defense moved ahead. They focused on calling a psychological expert to testify on Rasmea Odeh’s “intent” in not writing on an immigration form about her torture and rape at the hands of the Israeli military.

Outside the court defense attorney Michael Deutsch said, “It is not for the judge to decide. It is for the jury to decide.”

Judge Borman ordered that the next hearing on the case will take place Sept. 2. At that time he is expected to rule on the motions in front of him. Rasmea Odeh’s trial will begin shortly after that on Sept. 8.

Jess Sundin, from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression urged people to attend. “We know that this judge is an ardent supporter of the Israeli occupation. It’s imperative that we have a strong presence at the trial, to pressure him to offer some bit of fairness in a trial that is all about the crimes Israel committed against Rasmea Odeh. People from across the country are making plans to be in Detroit.”

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