District court orders release of defendant in Abu Ghosh “Price Tag” incident

Thursday, June 26, 2014, 17:29 On Tuesday, June 24 the Jerusalem District Court ordered the release of a youth from Kedumim who has been held in remand for over a month on suspicion of involvement with a “Price Tag” incident which occurred in Abu Ghosh approximately one year ago. After receiving an expert opinion from the Youth Probation Service Judge Ram Winograd ruled that the evidence against the detainee is weak and ordered his release to house arrest, to be served at his yeshiva. “I clarified that there is linkage between the strength of the evidence and [ruling on an] alternative to remand, and in this case it must be repeated that the weaker the evidence is, the the greater the readiness to release a detainee from remand is,” wrote the judge and ruled that, “The evidence against the defendant is quite borderline.” The Attorney General’s office requested a delay in carrying out the decision and filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. Honenu attorney Adi Kedar also filed an appeal on the ruling. On Wednesday, June 25 a deliberation took place on the appeal under the auspices of Judge Neal Hendel and a decision is expected to be handed down within a several days. Kedar pleaded that although the Jerusalem District Court ruled to release the youth, it erred in ruling that there was genuine evidence against the defendant. The quality of the evidence is extremely weak and also there are many deficiencies in the circumstantial evidence. The main piece of evidence on which the indictment is based is an atlas in which the site at which the incident occurred is marked. The atlas was seized by security forces during an illegal raid on the defendant’s yeshiva and there is no proof that the atlas belongs to the defendant. The defendant’s roommates were not asked to whom the atlas belongs and were not interrogated on the matter. There is no name written on the atlas, it was taken out of a closet in which many people were storing items and the raid it which it was taken was carried out approximately one year after the incident occurred. An additional piece of evidence on which the case is based is a video clip from a security camera showing three youths walking through the Jerusalem Central Bus Station near the platform from which a bus departs which stops at a town near Abu Ghosh. The bus driver gave testimony that several youths got off at that town in the evening before the incident. However the bus driver gave testimony that four youths wearing white shirts and black pants of a style typical of hareidi youth got on the bus while three youths were seen in the video walking through the bus station, and the two youths detained as suspects do not resemble at all the description given by the driver of the four youths. Honenu attorney Kedar stated that the police did not use forensic methods in order to identify the figures seen in the video clip and relied on testimony from police investigators who claim that they are acquainted with the defendants. Another defendant in the case was released before an indictment was filed and the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court and the Lod District Court ruled that the evidence against him was weak. Despite the release the Attorney General’s office filed an indictment. “The court’s decision to release the defendant is a balanced decision in which the judge ruled that the evidence against the defendant is weak,” said Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing the defendant. “We reason that filing the indictment was too hasty and is a continuation of the recent conduct of the the Attorney General’s office, which has been filing indictments even when there is no evidence against the defendants and has been using public opinion to apply pressure on the courts in order to sway their decisions against the defendants.”

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