The families of the two defendants in the July 30, 2015 Duma arson/murder case revealed on Monday that during the summations in the preliminary part of the trial, which took place several weeks ago at the Central District Court in Lod March 15, the State District Attorney’s Office for central Israel announced to the court in an unprecedented step that it was waiving a number of confessions given by the defendants, Honenu reported.
These are the confessions that were extracted during the Shabak interrogations in which “special means,” i.e. physical or mental pressure on defendants ordinarily legally forbidden for use against prisoners, which the families explicitly defined as torture in this case, were used with the endorsement of then Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, and with the approval of the Supreme Court.
According to a legal expert who spoke to Honenu, this means that the State Prosecutor’s Office is admitting that “involuntary” confessions given by the defendants by “special means” are inadmissible and that it fears that the court would throw them out. This way the court will not have to rule on their admissibility.
“The meaning of the statement of the State Attorney’s Office to the court is they understand that in light of the circumstances in which the confessions of the defendants were given, they cannot be accepted legally,” the expert said, noting that “this is a real earthquake, the prosecution is standing in front of the court and in fact admits – an investigation has been carried out here which led the defendants to turn over statements and confessions that were not voluntary as required by law.”
Attorney Zion Amir, who represents the minor in the case, said before the court hearing in March: “As we have reached the summation stage, I very much hope that one day the things that arose during the trial, especially the facts that were revealed in the Shabak agents’ testimonies, will be exposed.
“The public will be deeply shocked by how an investigation was conducted against a young minor who was not charged with murder—only with a connection to the murder but not with murder. How an investigation was conducted that consisted entirely of threats and the use of violent means in all forms and in all means. It shocks the mind, it is impossible to accept an investigation conducted in such a manner in a democratic society. I very much hope that in the end the court will speak up about these fundamental issues.”
Attorney Adi Keidar, who also represents the minor, stated: “The court must accept our claims for the first time, and expose the entire public to the dramatic events that occurred during these interrogations – violation of human rights, extreme violation of human rights, and we want to clarify unequivocally, even though this is only a preliminary trial at the moment: our defendant had nothing to do with the incident in Duma. In fact, none of us know what happened in Duma, but he had nothing to do with it – and the fictitious connection that was made one way or another in the indictment, stems from the Shabak’s desire to justify the threats and employment of violent methods in various forms and harsh measures and torture that were used against him. There’s no other explanation.”
Attorney Asher Ohayon, who represents the main suspect, Amiram Ben-Uliel, spoke of the physical and mental violence Ben-Uliel had reportedly suffered: “We are at the beginning of the summations in court, and we will try to convince the court, we will invite the court to determine that the kind of interrogations used on Amiram Ben-Uliel had never before been used in Israel. Not even against terrorists with dripping blood on their hands.
“It is clear to all of us, to everyone who has been present during this long trial, and has heard the Shabak interrogators testifying, that the real purpose of the interrogations in the manner in which it was conducted, was first and foremost to deliver the goods the Shabbak felt obligated to deliver, namely a a solution to the riddle of the murder in Duma. Clearly, there was pressure on the Shabak, and on the prime minister, and even the defense minister, who repeatedly promised to solve the arson murder in Duma.
“The Shabak was pressed to solve the crime, and in order to do so, it trampled all the basic rights of an Israeli citizen. It is unbelievable, but, for example, one of those torture routines was to have him handcuffed behind his back, without a back support to the chair, with his body tilted back but unable to stretch it all the way back. And he was kept this way for hours on end, until he cried out to the interrogators – who described here terrible acts, and he cried out to his father in heaven.
“It reminds us of the cries of Jews elsewhere,” Ohayon said, noting that “the interrogators responded with a smirk.”
The State District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s office have not yet released any responses.
The Shin Bet later responded to the disclosure by the families said that it “stands behind the findings of the investigation… which led to the filing of the indictment,” according a a Jpost report.
The Justice Ministry said legal claims in the case have remained consistent at all times and that portions of the statements made by the defendants would still be part of the case, according to that same report.