Dramatic development in Daharia vehicular arson case

Friday, December 21, 3:53 Dramatic turn of events: The attorney general’s office will not issue an indictment against the suspects in the Daharia vehicular arson case. Instead of an indictment the police will demand a remand extension for the purpose of facilitating continuation of the investigation. Honenu: There is something suspicious about the decision making process. After more than two weeks in remand and three days after the plaintiff for the case announced that the investigation had been completed and that the time was ripe for an indictment, the police retracted their decision and now do not intend to issue an indictment against the three detainees suspected of setting a vehicle on fire in the village of Daharia. This comes one day before the deliberation scheduled for issuing the indictment. Honenu notes first of all that this is a rare and unusual proceeding. The saga began over two weeks ago when three Jewish youths residing in the Southern Hevron region were detained on Route 60 while driving a car belonging to a friend of theirs. They are suspected of involvement with vehicular arson and spray-painting graffiti reading “Price Tag” and “Mazal Tov Efi” in the village of Daharia near Hevron. The three were detained on the night of the incident. According to the police, items were found in the car linking the detainees to the incident and possibly to other similar incidents. During the past two weeks, the detainees were brought several times before a judge in order to extend their remand for the purpose of continuing the investigation. According to the police, the detainees have been under surveillance for several months and the possibility that they were involved with other similar incidents in the region of Yehuda is being examined. Until now, no substantial evidence linking the detainees to the aforementioned incidents has been presented. The evidence which has been presented to the judges is classified confidential. Last Tuesday (December 18) a plaintiff’s affidavit was filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. The plaintiff declared that there was no more work that could be done in the investigation and that the evidence in the case constituted a sufficient basis for issuing an indictment against the three defendants. Accordingly, a deliberation for issuing the indictment was scheduled for Friday, December 21. In a surprising and perhaps dramatic step on the preceding Thursday, December 20, the police informed the Honenu attorneys handling the case that the following day an indictment would not be issued and instead the police would demand a remand extension in order to continue the investigation. Honenu notes that the proceedings have been most unusual. Usually when the police retract a decision to issue an indictment the suspects in the case are released. Honenu adds that even in the event that there are new developments in an investigation due to new evidence against the defendants or even the discovery of new incidents, the accepted procedure is to issue an indictment and then to add the details and to file corrections to the indictment. “In our case, the attorney general’s office and the police are deviating from all of the accepted rules,” says Honenu. Honenu concludes: “It is difficult to gauge what the police are trying to do. I imagine that tomorrow we will all be wiser. In any event, the conduct of the police raises many questions as to their sincerity and integrity. Could it be that someone shot an arrow and is now trying to draw the target?”

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