UPDATE: The detainee was released on Tuesday, December 29.
Monday, December 28, 2015, 18:30 On Monday, December 28, after it turned out that there is no connection between one of the youths suspected of involvement with the Kfar Duma arson incident of July 2015 and the incident, the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court ordered him released to house arrest. A plaintiff’s affidavit, however, was issued to the youth in connection with an altercation between him and Bedouins which occurred almost two years ago. The youth asserts that his life was in danger during the altercation. He is expected to be charged with involvement in the incident.
After enduring 29 days of interrogation by the GSS under harsh conditions, including abuse and severe violence, a youth was issued a plaintiff’s affidavit, but not in connection with the Kfar Duma arson incident for which he was detained. The affidavit was issued shortly after 16:30 on the afternoon of Monday, December 28 in connection with an altercation between the youth and Bedouins which occurred almost two years ago. Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the youth, discovered that his client, who had been prevented from speaking with an attorney for 17 out of the 29 days during which he was interrogated, is no longer suspected of involvement with the Kfar Duma case.
Immediately after the affidavit was issued, the police demanded that the youth’s remand be extended by several additional days in order to facilitate filing an indictment. Honenu Attorney Chai Haber demanded that the court immediately release the youth in light of the extreme suffering he experienced during the interrogations, his emotional state, and the fact that in the end the act attributed to him is a minor incident which occurred a long time ago, when he was a minor, and which he asserts was an act of self defense. The judge ordered that the youth be released to house arrest for 10 days, but acquiesced to a police request to delay carrying out the order to allow them time to consider filing an appeal.
Throughout his interrogations the youth denied any involvement in the Kfar Duma arson incident and complained that severe violence was used against him. He was beaten, his head was smashed against a wall, he suffered extreme sleep deprivation and after he had been continuously interrogated for almost three days straight, a GSS interrogator grabbed his head and pulled him backwards until he vomited and almost lost consciousness. A doctor who examined him determined that he was not fit to be interrogated, and yet he was immediately returned to the interrogation room and the abuse continued. See here for more information on abuse suffered by detainees in the Kfar Duma case.
Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the youth: “The plaintiff’s affidavit which was filed today after all the media attention, does not concern the Kfar Duma case at all, but rather an old and minor incident. It is a sad situation of serious import when in the State of Israel a suspect detained on suspicion of involvement in a case is interrogated for 29 days under deplorable conditions and prevented from meeting with an attorney for 17 days while the department interrogating him presents to the court various confidential reports and builds stories that he is suspected of involvement with the Kfar Duma case and in the end comes to court with a plaintiff’s affidavit concerning an old case. I am pleased that the court did not fall into the trap and decided to release the suspect. Although carrying out the decision has been delayed, I am convinced that even if the police decide to file an appeal, also the district court will order the release of the suspect to his home.”
Honenu leveled strong criticism against the conduct of the Attorney General’s office and the police: “This is a scandal. After 29 days of severe interrogation by the GSS, sleep deprivation, and physical and emotional violence, it turned out that the only claim against the youth is involvement with an altercation with Bedouins almost two years ago! We hope that indeed an investigatory committee will be formed to examine the conduct of the GSS and the Israeli law enforcement authorities relevant to this case. How can the youth be compensated for the emotional damage caused to him?”
UPDATE: Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 14:52 The Lod District Court rejected the appeal filed by the police in this case and ordered the suspect released to house arrest. The court also rejected the appeal filed by the suspect and left the release conditions as determined by the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court, including house arrest and posting bail.
Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the suspect, stated at the end of the deliberation on Tuesday, December 29: “After a month during which the suspect cried out that he had no connection to the Kfar Duma incident and had not done anything, and after yesterday the [Petah Tikva] Magistrate Court understood that, the appeal filed by the State was rejected today. The suspect will be released. The investigation lost all proportions: widespread detentions, hasty detentions, interrogations for days on end, violent interrogation methods, debasement and humiliation of detainees, the torture the suspects endured, and more details which will be revealed in the future. The time has come to bring this case to a close. I am pleased that my client is being released.”