On Monday, June 13, 2016, Rasmea Odeh will appear with her attorneys in Judge Gershwin Drain’s chambers for a closed status conference at the federal courthouse in Detroit, Michigan. The Rasmea Defense Committee is mobilizing one hundred supporters to be there as well—from Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Detroit, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Cincinnati, Texas, and other cities and states. They will picket outside the courthouse to urge for a new trial for this Palestinian American icon, who was convicted of a politically-motivated immigration charge in 2014, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation last year.
In a February 2016 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to Rasmea’s defense. At the trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the entire story of Israel forcing her to falsely confess to bombings in 1969, when she endured over three weeks of vicious sexual, physical, and psychological torture at the hands of the Israeli military.
Rasmea suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of this torture, which, according to world renowned psychologist, Dr. Mary Fabri, caused her to suppress the horrible recollection of the arrest when she answered questions on her immigration application. Judge Drain excluded Dr. Fabri’s testimony from the trial, and disallowed any evidence about the rape and torture. Appeals court judges sided with Rasmea’s defense team, and sent the case back to district court. If the judge cannot determine new legal avenues to exclude the expert testimony, Rasmea will be granted a new trial.
“The conviction of Rasmea Odeh was a travesty of justice. She is a hero who has dedicated her life to organizing for Palestinian liberation, and to building a society with dignity and justice for all. We will stand with her in Detroit on June 13, and call for a new trial, where she can finally tell her story,” said Nesreen Hasan of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), which, along with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), anchors the defense committee.
The status conference will likely determine the immediate next steps in the case, including the setting of dates for future evidentiary hearings and deadlines for filings. Lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression leader Frank Chapman, and representatives of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, CSFR, USPCN, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Coalition will be amongst the rally speakers before and after the closed session in the judge’s chambers.