First Supreme Court hearing held on Ben Uliel’s appeal

Monday, March 7, 2022, 18:12 The Kfar Duma arson attack in which three members of the Dawabsheh family were killed occurred in 2015, on the night between Thursday, July 30 and Friday, July 31. Amiram Ben Uliel was arrested six and a half years ago on suspicion of involvement with the incident and interrogated by the GSS for over 20 days. Some of the interrogations were “necessary investigations”, in which “special means” were used, including brutal torture. Since then he has been held in worse conditions than those of terrorists who killed entire families. He is in complete isolation, is not allowed any type of phone privileges and the infrequent visits with his wife and young daughter are held with a glass partition between them. Ben Uliel was convicted in May 2020 of three counts of murder and in September 2020 was sentenced to three life sentences.

He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on the conviction, the first hearing of which was held on Monday, March 7, 2022. Attorney Avigdor Feldman and Attorney Yehoshua Reznik are representing Ben Uliel.

Attorney Feldman, one of the founding members of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Attorney Reznik, a former deputy state prosecutor, emphasized that Ben Uliel’s confessions were extracted under torture, which is not legal. During the trial, Ben Uliel himself made the same claim about his confessions. However the Lod District Court accepted them and convicted him.

At the hearing, Attorney Feldman said: “In my opinion, this is one of the most serious cases that has ever reached the Supreme Court. The General Security Service chose to apply severe physical means on the appellant, following which he supposedly gave a confession. The [Lod] District Court validated some of the confessions that he gave. However the Supreme Court will have to ask itself whether we are about to be counted among the states that allow torture of interrogatees, or if we are a civilized country, and we understand that obtaining a confession is not the be-all and end-all. The means used and those that I saw shocked me.”

With regard to the reenactment of the incident, during which Ben Uliel was noticeably being guided, Attorney Feldman added that “Ben Uliel was not familiar with the area [Kfar Duma], he did not know what was going on, and 18 minutes of the recording disappeared. Most importantly, during the reenactment, an agent from the General Security Service – the one who led him to ‘confess’ – accompanied him. And he, the interrogator, told him [Ben Uliel]: ‘The reenactment is a test. If the reenactment is like your confession, we’ll be done with the interrogations. And if it’s different, we’ll continue the interrogations.”

Attorney Feldman continued: “The interrogator told him: ‘You and I know what it means to continue the interrogations. Continuing the interrogations basically means returning to those means that basically broke you.’ Even the interrogator himself said: ‘That torture was most painful’.”

The evening before the hearing, Ben Uliel’s supporters protested opposite the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem under the banner, “Torture Leads To Lies”. Public figures, among them Rabbi Chayim Drukman, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, MK Yitzhak Pindrus, former MK Moshe Feiglin, Professor Talia Einhorn, and Yossi Degan, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, participated in the protest.

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