Former GSS Deputy Director on false confessions

Friday, December 21, 2018, 10:36 A former Deputy Director of the GSS, Yitzhak Ilan, who served for over 30 years in the GSS, made a rare disclosure on the Israeli Uvda investigative and current affairs program on Thursday, December 20, during a segment which dealt with the Tair Rada, z”l, murder case. Ilan, who oversaw hundreds of sensitive interrogations by the GSS, stated that extracting false confessions from a suspect is easy: “In my life, I have seen hundreds of false confessions.” [In October 2018 new evidence was discovered in the case of Rada, z”l a schoolgirl murdered in 2006, which may influence the case of Ramon Zadorov, who has been serving a prison sentence for the crime.]
During the interview on Uvda, it came up that there were instances of false confessions extracted from defendants by interrogators who “planted” details in the mouths of the interrogatees. One example is the murder of Oleg Shaichat, who was a soldier at the time. Three Israeli Arabs were convicted of the murder, based on their confessions, and only due to a random occurrence was the actual murderer located, approximately one year after the indictment had been filed.
Attorney Asher Ohayon, who is representing Amiram Ben Uliel, the central suspect in the Kfar Duma case, responded to the Uvda interview: “Yitzhak Ilan, a former Deputy Director of the GSS, spoke with candor about the hundreds of false confessions he had seen and the ease with which it is possible to extract false confession from interrogatees. A fortunate interrogatee will encounter an interrogation team who examines his confession with sincerity and attempts to determine its credibility. No such fortune befell Amiram.
“The interrogation team in the Duma case is aware of the many discrepancies between the indictment and the reality that we have seen clearly in the recent deliberations and in the unrelenting pressure governmental officials have placed on the team, grasping Amiram’s confession as if they had found a treasure, despite the resounding questions surrounding it.”
The only evidence in the Kfar Duma case linking the suspects to the arson incident are the confessions which were extracted from them during GSS interrogations. The majority of the confessions were invalidated by the Central District Court in Lod, which ruled that they were unreliable because they had been extracted under duress during “necessary interrogations”, interrogations in which intensive physical pressure is applied.
In a related aspect of the Kfar Duma case, on Sunday, December 23, the evidentiary stage of the trial is expected to continue. As of this stage of the trial the head of the GSS interrogation team, known as “Miguel”, Chief Superintendent Erez Amouyal, who led the Israeli Police investigation team and additional police interrogators have testified in court.
Leading up to Miguel’s testifying, there were calls to prevent him from testifying in the case, and to put him behind bars. Ori Kirshenbaum, one of the “Duma Blood Libel” Facebook page administrators explained the reasoning: “During the trial within a trial the head of the team of interrogators, who will arrive today [December 9] to testify in court, described how he participated in the torture of the interrogated detainees. For example he described how as other interrogators bent the back of a handcuffed and leg-cuffed interrogatee backwards and he was writhing in pain, Miguel shouted at him, ‘Confess!’
“In a state of law a cruel man like him would be sitting behind bars. Every Israeli citizen should be concerned that the chief witness in such a dramatic trial has continued his employment with the GSS as if nothing happened.” See here for a description of torture methods and here for a report of a suicide attempt by one of the detainees in the case.
During his testimony at the trial within a trial Miguel, who was present at some of the interrogations during which methods of torture were applied, confirmed that the means used were “painful and perhaps even very painful,” (page 748, lines 30-31 of the court minutes) and he himself had tried them on himself in the past.

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