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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘evidence’

Prosecution Quietly Closes Duma Arson Suspect Case for Lack of Evidence

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

The prosecution last week informed attorney Adi Keidar of the Honenu legal aid society that the investigation of Kokhav HaShahar youth coordinator Natanel Forkowitz, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Duma village arson murder, is being closed for lack of evidence. The announcement came six months after Forkowitz had been picked up by the Shabak secret police without any stated charges. He was then interrogated for 12 days without being allowed to see his lawyer.

According to Keidar, the admission of his client’s innocence was not initiated by the prosecution, but came in response to Keidar’s own inquiry regarding the status of Forkowitz’s case. Only then did Attorney Rachel Avishar Abeles from the Central District Prosecutor’s Office admit that the case had been closed.

Forkowitz, who was awarded the president’s badge of excellence during his military service, a family man with no criminal record, was guilty only of working as youth coordinator in Kokhav HaShahar, in the government run Hebrew Shepherd program to engage socially unaffiliated youth, a.k.a. hill youth. Forkowitz was picked up during his IDF reserves service.

The Shabak’s entire case against Forkowitz rested on the fact that he sold a vehicle to a youth hill from the Shilo block who was a suspect in the arson case. The interrogators insisted that Forkowitz had known of his vehicle’s involvement in the arson, and his own military record and his history of firm opposition to the “price tag” actions did not save him from the courts who kept extending his detention, relying on “secret information” his lawyers were not allowed to see.

In the end, there was no connection between the suspect in the Duma case and a vehicle, and the youth who had purchased it from Forkowitz was let go after 21-days’ detention that included abusive interrogation.

Attorney Keidar said in a statement that “this incident should disturb the sleep of all the citizens in this country, especially the residents of Judea and Samaria (Kokhav HaShahar is in the Benjamin region), who can find themselves in the all-powerful hold [of Shabak], detained under harsh conditions for no reason, all of it in order to serve the aims of Shabak interrogators who clearly knew all along that [Forkowitz] had no connection to the incident. It is also saddening that the courts have acquiesced to this behavior and did not cut it off at the beginning.”

David Israel

New Traces of Life Found in Theresienstadt

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Nearly 70 years after the fall of the Nazis and the end of World War II, small bits of evidence have been found that life — and art — managed to flourish among those who were marked for the dance with death in Theresienstadt.

Initial documentation of the finds, which were discovered throughout modern Terezin in the Czech Republic, have just become available online at www.ghettospuren.de . Very shortly, an English language version will be posted as well, according to the European Jewish Press website (EJP).

“Material evidence and traces” was initiated in May 2012, said Uta Fischer, a city planner based in Berlin, is the manager of the project. For the past two years, the relics from the past have been meticulously collected by Fischer “before it is too late.”

Conservators Prof. Thomas Danzl and Karol Bayer, photo journalist Roland Wildberg and building researcher Jiri Smutny are also involved in the project, which is being financed by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the German Federal Cultural Foundation and other institutions in Germany and Czech Republic.

“O bug, why dances thou on me all night. . . “ the words written on to the walls of an attic by an unknown prisoner who sarcastically pens his complaint about the vermin of ghetto life. A doodled illustration of the offending creature accompanies the work on the wall, along with a number of small animal scenes that seem to be painted for a child’s eyes in another attic.

Elsewhere in Terezin, members of the ghetto police also left their mark on a sandstone arch.

But renovations, vandalism and erosion are erasing these bits of evidence that other lives once passed through here, Fischer warns. She says it is urgent to document these hidden treasures now, before they disappear.

The Theresienstadt concentration camp was a massive prison for Jews who were shipped there by rail car from half of Europe. Tens of thousands, including children, died in the old fortress; some of malnutrition and disease, some simply murdered outright. More than 150,000 Jews were held prisoner there for months – and in some cases years – before they were sent to the death camps in occupied Poland.

Hana Levi Julian

UN Report to Confirm Chemical Use, But Won’t Point Finger at Assad

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, UN weapons inspectors intend to accuse Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of responsibility for the gas attack that killed some 1,400 civilians in August. The drawback is that they can only offer circumstantial evidence on the case, according to insiders.

Western officials are saying the UN team has collected a “wealth” of evidence confirming that nerve agents were used in the attack on the al Ghouta suburb of Damascus. So we know it wasn’t a faked event, as the Syrians and the Iranians have been saying initially. But will the experts be able to trace the chemicals back to Assad’s henchmen?

The Iranians and the Russians, most notably President Vladimir Putin in a NY Times op-ed today (A Plea for Caution From Russia), still insist on blaming the rebels for the attack.

Putin writes: “No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.”

The highly anticipated report on the inspectors findings will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday. But UN diplomats are saying the report will not directly accuse Assad.

It will, however, present a strong circumstantial case that the Assad regime was responsible, based on analysis of rocket shells, ammunition and tests on soil, blood and urine from the attack.

“I know they have gotten very rich samples — biomedical and environmental — and they have interviewed victims, doctors and nurses," said the Western official. It seems they are very happy with the wealth of evidence they got,” a UN official told Foreign magazine. But the team could not identify the specific agents detected by the inspector team, but said, “You can conclude from the type of evidence the [identity of the] author.”

Syria and Russia have highlighted several other alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian government forces. The Syrians initially requested that the UN inspectors investigate an alleged March 19 sarin attack in the town of Khan al Assal, near Aleppo. Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar al Jaafari also requested that the team inspect three other cases of alleged chemical weapons use in late August against Syrian forces. On their final day in Damascus, the team visited a military hospital in Damascus to examine alleged victims of rebel chemical weapons attacks.

Sellström’s team is planning to return to Damascus at a later date to complete its investigations into the other incidents, including the March incident at Khan al Assal.

Under the terms of its Security Council mandate, the UN inspectors are only authorized to conclude whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and they may not assign responsibility for said use.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem admitted in a statement that his country operated a clandestine chemical weapons program, and promised to make them available to international inspectors, as part of the Russian sponsored deal whereby the Syrians would hand over their chemical stash in exchange to not being bombed by the U.S. Moallem said: “We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations.”

And while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are planning to meet in Geneva to try and reach an agreement on a plan to collect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, American talking heads have been debating whether this was a win or a loss to the Obama team. It appears the right, on Fox News, thinks this has been the most abysmal failure since Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer inspected Sitting Bull in Little Bighorn. The left, everywhere else on Television, thinks the best thing about it so far is the fact that it’s been bloodless. Well, bloodless if you’re an American.

According to Israel Radio, sources close to the Syrian president are saying they expect a deal would be reached in October, should the two foreign ministers agree on it today, in Geneva. Meanwhile, the rebels, who feel a little abandoned, understandably, are warning the Syrians will take advantage of the lull in the pressure on them, and move their chemical stash to Iraq.

Oh, Iraqis and chemical weapons… don’t get me started…

Yori Yanover

Russian FM Condemns ‘Hysteria’ around Chemical Attack

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Following last week’s chemical attack, the West has engineered a media campaign to facilitate a military incursion, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in “an emergency press conference” Monday, RT reported. The minister also cast doubts on the American and European charges regarding President Assad’s being behind the chemical attacks on his own citizens.

“Official Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the ‘red line’ has been crossed,” Lavrov told reporters. “Now, we are hearing calls for a military campaign against Bashar Assad.”

Lavrov said that the U.S., Britain and others have assembled a “powerful force” and are “readying their ships and planes” for an invasion o Syria.

He cautioned that the development is setting the world on a “perilous path” and warned that “repeating the Iraqi and Libyan scenario” by bringing in outside forces would be a “terrible mistake that will lead to more blood being spilled.”

Minister Lavrov expressed outrage over the possibility of a NATO strike on Syrian chemical storage facilities without a mandate from the UN.

Asked if Russia was going to join in the potential conflict on either side, Lavrov said “We have no plans to go to war, but we hope that others think of long-term interests.”

Lavrov also questioned the rebel version of events: “There is information that videos were posted on the Internet hours before the purported attack, and [there are] other reasons to doubt the rebel narrative.”

“Those involved with the incident wanted to sabotage the upcoming Geneva peace talks,” Lavrov charged. “Maybe that was the motivation of those who created this story. The opposition obviously does not want to negotiate peacefully.”

Lavrov reminded reporters that the UN expert team currently investigating the attack sites in Syria “does not have the mandate” to produce an official ruling on who was responsible for the chemical release.

Of course, the FM did not add the fact that it was the Russian and Chinese delegation to the Security Council who fought to clip the talons on that eagle.

“The experts in Syria have the mandate to determine if chemical weapons were used, and if so, which ones, but not who unleashed this attack” Lavrov told the gathered media—in a manner reminiscent of the guy who killed both his parents and asked for the court’s leniency on account of his being an orphan.

“The UN security council will make the final decision about the perpetrator based on this evidence and all the analytical and factual materials available on the internet and in other media.”

Or, in Russian Newspeak: we’re planning to keep this puppy underwater until it stops breathing.

Now, that’s three metaphors for one Russian foreign policy. The NATO bombs are starting to drop in 3… 2…

Yori Yanover

Erdogan: Israel Behind Egypt Coup

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was behind last month’s military coup in Egypt.

Erdogan told a meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling Justice and Development, or AKP, party that he has evidence that Israel was involved in the July 3 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Turkish Hurriyet news service reported.

“Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” the prime minister said, according to Hurriyet.

He cited as proof a statement by a French intellectual he identified as Jewish, who told the Israeli justice minister during a visit to France before Egypt’s 2011 elections, “The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box,” Hurriyet reported.

The White House condemned Erdogan’s remarks.

“Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters later Tuesday.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and later expelled Israel’s ambassador following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals in a confrontation with Israeli Navy commandos. The ship was trying to evade Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in March for the incident, and representatives of the countries have met for reconciliation talks. The talks reportedly are held up over the amount of compensation that Israel is to pay to the families of the Turkish casualties and how the payments are to be characterized.


The Refusal To Be Comforted

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers have dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognize it? Is this your son’s robe or not?” Jacob recognized it and replied, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We then read: “Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’ ” (37:34-35).

Why did Jacob refuse to be comforted? A midrash gives a remarkable answer. “One can be comforted for one who is dead, but not for one who is still living.”

Jacob refused to be comforted because he had not yet given up hope that Joseph was alive. That, tragically, is the fate of those who have lost members of their family (the parents of soldiers missing in action, for example), but have no proof that they are dead. They cannot go through the normal stages of mourning because they cannot abandon the possibility that the missing person is still capable of being rescued. Their continuing anguish is a form of loyalty; to give up, to mourn, to be reconciled to loss is a kind of betrayal. In such cases, grief lacks closure. To refuse to be comforted is to refuse to give up hope.

On what basis did Jacob continue to hope? The late David Daube made a suggestion that I find convincing. The words the sons say to Jacob – “Haker na – Do you recognize this?” – have a quasi-legal connotation. Daube relates this passage to another, with which it has close linguistic parallels:

“If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping … If it [the animal] was torn to pieces by a wild animal, he shall bring the remains as evidence and he will not be required to pay for the torn animal” (Shemot 22:10-13).

The issue at stake is the extent of responsibility borne by a guardian (shomer). If the animal is lost through negligence, the guardian is at fault and must make good the loss. If there is no negligence, merely force majeure, an unavoidable, unforeseeable accident, the guardian is exempt from blame. One such case is where the loss has been caused by a wild animal. The wording in the law – “tarof yitaref – torn to pieces” – exactly parallels Jacob’s judgment in the case of Joseph: “tarof toraf Yosef – Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We know that some such law existed prior to the giving of the Torah. Jacob himself says to Laban, whose flocks and herds have been placed in his charge, “I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself” (Bereishit 31:39). This implies that guardians even then were exempt from responsibility for the damage caused by wild animals. We also know that an elder brother carried a similar responsibility for the fate of a younger brother placed in his charge (i.e. when the two were alone together). That is the significance of Cain’s denial when confronted by G-d as to the fate of Abel: “Am I my brother’s guardian (shomer)?”

We now understand a series of nuances in the encounter between Jacob and his sons when they return without Joseph. Normally they would be held responsible for their younger brother’s disappearance. To avoid this, as in the case of later biblical law, they “bring the remains as evidence.” If those remains show signs of an attack by a wild animal, they must – by virtue of the law then operative – be held innocent. Their request to Jacob, “haker na,” must be construed as a legal request, meaning, “Examine the evidence.” Jacob has no alternative but to do so, and in virtue of what he has seen, acquit them.

A judge, however, may be forced to acquit someone accused of the crime because the evidence is insufficient to justify a conviction, yet he may hold lingering private doubts. So Jacob was forced to find his sons innocent, without necessarily believing what they said. Jacob did not believe it, and his refusal to be comforted shows that he was unconvinced. He continued to hope that Joseph was still alive. That hope was eventually justified. Joseph was still alive, and eventually father and son were reunited.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Prime Suspect in Etan Patz Case To Be Released Today

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Jose Ramos, imprisoned for 20 years for molesting children and the prime suspect in the case of six year old Etan Patz, a Jewish boy from Manhattan who disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979, is set to be released on Wednesday.

Ramos was found guilty of Etan’s death in civil court in 2004, but a criminal court found that not enough evidence existed to charge him.  Ramos has denied any responsibility for Patz’s disappearance.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/prime-suspect-in-etan-patz-case-to-be-released-today/2012/11/07/

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