Rights of minors seriously violated in Old City of Jerusalem

חננו 602 בור

The pit on Mt. Zion, Photo credit: Ya’akov Sevillia

Monday, June 2, 2014, 19:03. Once again, youth detained by the Merchav David (Old City District) Police in the Old City of Jerusalem have been unconditionally released in court.
Five Jews, four minors, students of the yeshiva at King David’s Tomb and their counselor, were detained in the evening on Sunday, June 1 while looking at a large pit on Mt. Zion near the yeshiva. The pit had spontaneously opened at the end of the previous week. Policemen who arrived on the scene detained them, claiming that they themselves had dug out the pit.
On the morning of Monday, June 2 the five detainees were brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate Court where the police investigator requested that their remand be extended by five days. According to the police the detainees dug the pit next to which they were found and are therefore charged with trespassing, damaging property and operating in a archaeological site without permission. The investigator also claimed during the deliberation that the detainees are suspected of digging the pit in order to enter the adjacent church through it.
However, very quickly during the deliberation it became clear that the pit had started to open already last Thursday, May 29 and was discovered by a group of tourists. Since then the pit had widened, attracting curious on-lookers and researchers to the site. The five detainees, who are all from the nearby yeshiva, said that all they did was come to look at the unusual site and then policemen passing by detained them.
Honenu attorney David HaLevi, who represented the detainees, pleaded in the deliberation that in addition to the youths not violating any laws and not being apprehended with any digging tools in their possession, the police rudely violated the rights of minors. According to HaLevi three of the youths were treated violently during the detention. Additionally the police interrogators interrogated them late at night in violation of the law and did not inform their parents of the detention or allow them to be present during the interrogation.
Judge Irit Cohen accepted HaLevi’s pleas and ruled that clearly the minors’ rights were violated. “The parents were not called to the interrogation and were not called to the deliberation today… There is no authorization in their file to interrogate the minors at night,” wrote Judge Cohen and stressed that, “The conduct [of the police during] the interrogation mentioned above is enough to bring about the release of the defendants.” In relation to the reason for which they were detained the judge ruled that there was no justification to keep them in remand. The judge ordered the “immediate and unconditional” release of the minors and on the adult she ruled that he sign on bail and be immediately released.
“The detention was meaningless, superfluous and seriously violated the rights of minors,” said Honenu attorney David HaLevi in response to the detention. “The fact that the court unconditionally released them speaks for itself. It is a shame that they had to suffer and I assume that in the next few days my clients will consider filing a suit against the Israeli Police for damages suffered.”
Photo: The pit on Mt. Zion, Photo credit: Ya’akov Sevillia

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