Israel to Expel French-American Professor Arrested During West Bank Protest

In a rare move, Frank Romano was arrested according to military law. However, before his hearing he was released and taken into custody by the population authority in preparation for his deportation

Israel is set to expel the foreign law professor arrested on suspicion of disrupting the actions of Israeli soldiers on duty at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar on Friday.

In a rare move, Frank Romano, 66, who holds both French and American citizenship and teaches law in France, was arrested under military rather than civilian law and was not brought before a judge.

Instead, his attorney Gaby Lasky confirmed that she was told that Romano had been taken into custody by the Population Authority in preparation to expel him. The police also confirmed this.
On Sunday, during a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court, the judge reprimanded the state, which had failed to bring Romano to court. The judge said “Romano has not been brought to court due to delays by the state, the police brought him to the deportation facility but the prison guards refused to accept him – the administrative procedure is crooked, we’ve been taken for a ride.”

The judge refused to accept the state’s argument that Romano was dangerous, saying: “I saw what he did. He stopped a bulldozer. This happens in Jerusalem 100 times a day. He’s not a dangerous man.”

After the judge ruled that Romano was not a threat, police still refused to release him from handcuffs during his consultation with his lawyer in the hall.

Romano was arrested together with two Palestinian activists for attempting to block the road and get in the way of security forces.

According to military law, which is enforced in the territories, a suspect’s detention can be extended by 96 hours before being brought to a judge.

According to the civil code, detainees must be brought before a judge no more than 24 hours after their arrest.

The military code of justice applies to Palestinians in the territories, but not to Israelis.

Lasky told Haaretz that it is very rare for military code to be used on foreign citizens and that she has encountered only one such other case in the past. Theoretically, Romano could have been arrested under the civil code, because the suspected infraction is supposedly against the authorities of the state.

Lasky said earlier Sunday that the intent was to bring Romano for a “regular” remand hearing before a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge. But shortly before the hearing the security forces said that Romano was to be released and deported and so he would not be brought to court, although the hearing did take place.

“Like thieves in the night, instead of bringing Frank Romano to a hearing on my request that he be released from detention, which was set for today [Sunday] at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, without informing me or the court, at 2 PM [two hours before the scheduled hearing] he was handed over to the immigration police for deportation. Now it is clear why he was arrested according to military law – to give them time to deport him before he sees a judge.”