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AG’s office cancels indictment filed against Yitzhar resident

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 10:28 Honenu’s legal efforts brought about the cancellation of an indictment filed against a Yitzhar resident suspected of throwing rocks at a police van. After five months during which the Yitzhar resident was under severe restrictive conditions, the Attorney General’s office announced the cancellation of the indictment which was filed against him for the suspicion of throwing rocks. Honenu attorney Kedar: “We estimate that a severe suit will be filed against the State [of Israel].” The case concerns a newlywed 22-year-old Yitzhar resident against whom a indictment was filed on suspicion of throwing rocks at a border police van at the entrance to Yitzhar. The youth, who was walking home from the yeshiva in which he learns, suddenly noticed border policemen near the gate of Yitzhar getting out of an unmarked Savanna van and running towards him. He was startled and began to run away until he was detained. The policemen claimed that he threw a rock which shattered a window of the Savanna and he was taken to the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police Station where he was interrogated by interrogators from the Department of Nationalist Crime. During his interrogation he completely denied that he had thrown a rock at the police van and said that he was on his way home from the adjacent neighborhood and that someone was supposed to pick him up several minutes after he was detained and drive with him to the wedding of one of his good friends. The youth told the interrogator the name of the driver who was supposed to pick him up and also mentioned that at the time he was detained he dropped a bag containing the white shirt he was going to wear to the wedding and that they could go to the site and argue the validity on his statement. The following day the detainee was brought to a deliberation at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. The police hurried to file a plaintiff’s affidavit and requested an extension of his remand until an indictment was filed. However Judge Irit Cohen accepted most of Honenu attorney Adi Kedar’s pleas and ordered the detainee’s release to house arrest. Judge Cohen ruled that there were significant problems with the evidence and that the testimonies of some of the border police actually support the detainee’s testimony. In the examination of the evidence it became clear that in their testimony the policemen admit that they did not see the detainee throwing a rock. After they heard the window shattering they noticed him standing at the road which passes above the gate to Yitzhar and looking at them. Only after they got out of the police van and started to run towards him did he flee. Only one policeman claimed that he saw the youth, “performing the action of throwing something,” however also he gave testimony that he did not see the rock flying towards the van. The testimony of the policeman turned out to be especially problematic in light of the fact that he was sitting in the rear seat on the right of the van and the detainee was walking on the road above the gate to Yitzhar, on the left side. Also the policeman’s field of vision was blocked by the three policemen sitting in front of him. Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing the detainee, pleaded that the testimonies of the policemen, according to which the detainee started to run only after they stepped out of the police van supports the detainee’s testimony. “If he had thrown a rock he would not have stood and looked at the police van,” said Kedar, and noted that it is not clear that the site on which the detainee stood was within the line of vision of the policeman who testified that he noticed the detainee throwing something. Kedar also noted that there is a playground above the site on which the detainee was standing and a rock could have been thrown from there, however the policemen did not bother to look in that direction and chose to chase after the first man they noticed. “The Attorney General’s office ignored the warning signs” Despite the judge’s ruling and instead of scrupulously examining the evidence, the Attorney General’s office rushed and already on the day after the detention Oded Keller, an attorney from the Central District Attorney’s office filed an indictment against the detainee with the K’far Saba Magistrate Court on charges of aggravated assault of policeman, causing damage to a vehicle, interfering with a policeman in the line of duty and possessing a knife. According to the indictment the policemen arrived at Yitzhar in order to carry out “guard duty on the water tower,” which was constructed by Arabs between Asira al-Qibliya and Yitzhar. Due to the indictment, the detainee was held under house arrest, at a location specified by the police far from his home. Following that, he was confined to Yitzhar for five months. Only when he appeared at the deliberation at which his indictment was supposed to be read, at the opening of the trial, did he discover that the Attorney General’s office decided to cancel the indictment. In response Kedar filed a request to receive the reasons for closing the case in order to examine the possibility of filing a suit against the police. Recently, the laconic response was received: “The indictment was canceled due to lack of evidence.” Honenu notes that canceling the indictment at the beginning of the trial, and even before the evidentiary hearings began, is quite unusual and proves that from the outset there was no cause for filing the indictment. “Despite all of the warning signs from Honenu’s defense attorneys and from the courts, the Attorney General’s office had decided to file an indictment, a process which would lead to placing severe restrictive conditions on a young man who had just gotten married,” said Honenu attorney Adi Kedar. “He and his family suffered greatly, including suffering financial damage. We foresee that a severe suit will be filed against the State [of Israel] over this conduct. And the time has come for the courts to speak up. The conduct of the Attorney General’s office reinforces the recent general atmosphere. Therefore, even if the evidence against suspects is weak, they prefer to file an indictment and encourage the legal system to deal with the entire population of the Shomron with a heavy hand — a tactic which has not been successful.”

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