District court levels sharp criticism at Prison Service

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 14:49 Central District Court Judge Nava Bechor leveled particularly sharp criticism at the Prison Service after representatives thereof refused to allow a mother to give her son, a minor, a kiss. The 17-year old youth, who is suspected of involvement with Price Tag incidents, is being detained until the end of proceedings against him and has been held in remand for approximately six months. The Prison Service has tightened the regulations for visitors of Jews suspected of nationalist crimes and this minor has been forbidden even telephone conversations. Only once a month is he allowed a visit of less than half an hour during which his parents can meet with him without a partition between them. During a deliberation on Wednesday, October 26, the mother requested permission from Judge Bechor to give her son a kiss, in honor of her birthday, which fell on that day. Representatives of the Prison Service who were in the courtroom objected to the request. When Judge Bechor ordered them to verify the matter with their commander, one of the representatives stated that if the judge allows the mother to give her son a kiss, they will strip-search him because he “came into contact with a civilian”. The mother responded that she was not interested in giving her son a kiss if it would result in him suffering through a strip-search. Judge Nava Bechor leveled sharp criticism at the conduct of the Prison Service, and at the request of Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the minor, wrote it in her decision: “I am of the opinion that the position of the Prison Service is tainted by extreme unreasonableness and borders on inhumanity for inhumanity’s sake. Nonetheless, the defendant’s mother forwent giving her son a kiss, and I will not obligate her to do so.” Judge Bechor ordered that her decision be transferred to the commander of the detention facility in which the minor is being held and that the commander give a written response to it within five days. Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the minor, stated that, “There is no word to describe the conduct of the Prison Service other than callousness. In all of my many years working as a criminal defense attorney I have encountered many instances of deficient conduct, but I think that today a new height of callousness has been reached. All in all, what did the mother request? To give her son, a minor, a kiss on the cheek, on her birthday. Was it really necessary to threaten the mother with strip-searching her son if she did so?” Haber added that, “The honorable Judge Nava Bechor must be commended for not letting the matter escape her attention, and for not only giving her opinion of the matter without hesitation but for also demanding clarification. The time has come to understand that also a detainee has rights and feelings, certainly a minor. I am eagerly waiting to read the response of the Prison Service, which might ‘shed light’ on this deficient conduct.”

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