Photo Credit: B'Tselem
Graffiti found on the burned home in the village of Duma.

The Prosecution on Wednesday issued the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court a prosecutor’s statement regarding the Duma arson murders case. The Prosecutor’s statements does not include details of the charges, but constitutes a promise to indict within five days. This enables the prosecution to ask the court to remand the suspects in the case yet again, after having kept them in incognito incarceration for lengthy periods that defy the very notion of habeas corpus. At least one suspect will be charged with murder, and the Prosecution is still debating how to charge the second suspect, a minor, for his involvement in the arson murders.

Earlier this week, the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court placed under house arrest one of the suspects in the Duma case, after all the Shabak allegations against him had resulted in nothing. However, police have announced their intent to indict him for attacking a Palestinian two years ago. The young man, 18, was picked up a month ago by the Shabak and was prevented from seeing a judge, much less a lawyer, for at least 20 days. The court rejected a police request for his remand, and a second court rejected the police appeal of the first rejection.

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Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri, wrote on Wednesday, after visiting the Shabak detainees, that their “physical and mental condition is proper and there is a gap between their claims and their lawyers’.” Nizri said was responding to an appeal from attorney Adi Keidar, who represents some of the suspects, that he visit the Shabak facility in which they are being detained. Nizri wrote that he had visited the facility on Saturday night, to “assess the conditions of detention of the detainees and to ensure compliance with legal requirements.”

Honenu legal aid society attorney Adi Keidar said in response that “the Deputy Attorney General Nizri’s letter [regarding the intent to indict in five days] was leaked to Ha’aretz before it was placed on our desk.”

“Nizri continues his improper use of messages he has been ordered to deliver in an attempt to coverup the violent treatment that was used with his approval,” Keidar continued. “His official visits were intended for other purposes, and Nizri’s appearances in an un-coordinated visit with the suspects was conducted as a means of ‘purifying the vermin’ of violence, which is unacceptable under any law and convention.”

Nizri added that his discussions with the detainees were held in private without the presence of prison guard or a Shabak interrogator in the cell, adding: “At the beginning of each call, we presented ourselves as employees of the Ministry of Justice seeking to assess the conditions of detention and imprisonment, and asked the prisoner if he had any complaints or claims whatsoever, or matters that required treatment. It should be noted that at the beginning of each conversation with the detainees we made it clear that we do not intend to discuss topics pertaining to the investigation, the evidence or their involvement in the events being investigated, only the conditions of their detention and their various complaints.”

Nizri implicitly rejected the arguments of the detainees’ attorneys on the use of unreasonable interrogation methods, including torture, and wrote: “Our impression is that the physical and mental condition of the detainees’ is fine, and that there is a significant gap between the allegations we have heard directly from them and part of what is claimed in their name in public.” Nizri added that the meetings were recorded and that a report on the visit will be passed for comments to the Shabak and the Prison Service.

Naturally, as the Honenu attorneys keep stressing, the Deputy AG’s entire campaign is intended as a preventive measure against the defense’s strategy of claiming whatever confessions had been squeezed out of the detainees were done illegally through brute physical means. This back and forth could be interrupted by the Knesset, which is in charge of monitoring the Shabak, and may wish to conduct its own hearings—possibly behind closed doors—into the torture claims.

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