Photo Credit: Courtesy of the website of the Israeli Judicial Authority
Supreme Court Justice Yael Vilner

After a long period of remand extensions starting in the fall of 2015, in recent days Supreme Court Justice Yael Vilner has ordered that the minor involved in the case (who is no longer a minor – DI) be sent to the Probation Service to examine the possibility of release from detention to alternative incarceration.

Two suspects have been in state custody since the fall of 2015 in the arson/murder case of July 31, 2015 in which a local Arab family of three perished. Despite its unusually high investment in solving the case, including the sanctioning of “special means” (physical or mental pressure on defendants ordinarily legally forbidden for use against prisoners, which the family explicitly defined as torture) against the then minor detainee, the state has not been able to launch a convincing, public trial, and has been dragging its feet instead, attempting to coordinate the widely-varying evidence and testimony against the two defendants.

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At the recent hearing, Honenu legal aid society attorney Adi Kedar, who represents the minor, asked to release his client from detention, where he had been for two and a half years.

During the hearing, the judge stated that the detention had indeed been unusually long. In addition, the judge said that the minor’s mental state is indeed not good and that alternatives to detention should be examined.

It should be noted that—as per state law—as soon as the minor was initially arrested, a psychiatric opinion was delivered to the court regarding the urgent need for alternative incarceration, but the Shabak and the prosecution each time offered the court secret information as to why he should be remanded.

The judge now suggested starting a process of examining an alternative detention by the probation service, and asked for a report on the minor’s case. The State agreed to the court’s demand for a report, but did not guarantee that it would accept the recommendation of the probation service.

The judge decided to extend the minor’s detention for an additional 45 days, and sent him to be tested, ruling that the hearing on the matter would take place immediately after the ruling in the preliminary hearing in a month.

Attorney Kedar said in a statement: “After two and a half years of incarceration under very harsh conditions that aggravated the mental state of a person who was a minor at the time of the offenses, the Supreme Court ordered the preparation of a detention report in the minor’s case. We want to mention that this is a person who has undergone investigations accompanied by severe violence, which is not being denied today.

“We hope that the combination of the upcoming ruling in the preliminary trial and this decision of the Supreme Court constitute the light at the end of the tunnel, ahead of his release and a decision in the minor’s case.”

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