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Four minors released to house arrest

Monday, September 22, 2014, 14:14 On Sunday, September 21 the Supreme Court of Israel ordered the release of the four Jewish minors accused of committing arson at an Arab café in the village of Dura al-Qara. The four minors were detained on Monday, August 25 on suspicion of setting fire to sofas at the Arab café on Monday, August 18, one day after a structure, which burned to the ground, was set on fire in the nearby Jewish outpost Ma’aleh HaAraba’a (near Beit El). No Arabs were detained on suspicion of involvement with the Ma’aleh HaAraba’a arson incident. On Thursday, August 28 an indictment was filed against the four youths despite their lack of a criminal record. Their remand was extended by one week in order to allow the youth probation service time to prepare an expert opinion on the youths. On Thursday, September 4 a deliberation took place in light of the recommendation of the youth probation service to release the youths from remand. Despite a particularly positive report from the youth probation service, and the fact none of the youths has been previously detained, Jerusalem District Court Judge Rafael Carmel decided to extend their remand by five additional days and only then to rule on their case. On Monday, September 8 Judge Carmel ordered that the four minors remain in remand until the end of proceedings against them. On Sunday, September 21, after nearly one month of remand, the Supreme Court accepted the appeal filed by Honenu attorney Adi Kedar on the decision of the Jerusalem District Court and ordered the youths conditionally released to house arrest. During the deliberation Kedar and Honenu attorney Naftali Wertzberger, who is also representing the detainees, presented a long list of decisions in which courts released Arab minors, some of whom have criminal records, despite the fact that they were accused of more serious crimes. The central decision which was presented is a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran who approximately two weeks ago ordered the release of an Arab minor with a criminal record accused of preparing fire-bombs and throwing them at policemen, a much more serious crime than that of which the Jewish minors were accused. Wertzberger and Kedar also presented the expert opinion of the youth probation service which recommended the release of the four minors, none of whom had been previously detained. Justice Uzi Fogleman ordered the release of the minors with the condition that they remain under house arrest with electronic handcuffs and, contrary to the recommendation of the youth probation service, that the youths remain outside of the Yehuda and Shomron regions, which entails their staying outside of their parents’ homes. Additionally, the judge prohibited them from returning to their studies and ordered that each youth post over 20,000 NIS bail. “With mixed feelings we accept the court’s decision,” said Honenu attorney Adi Kedar in response to the ruling. “Alongside the decision to release the youths, the ruling indicates that discrimination continues also in determining the restrictive release conditions for Jewish minors without a criminal record. That is contrary to recent decisions in the cases of Arab minors who were released under much more lenient conditions.” Honenu attorney Naftali Wertzberger also responded to the ruling: “The release itself is a very small step in a positive direction. However, banishing the youths from Yehuda and Shomron, and their parents’ homes, and requiring them to wear electronic handcuffs is discrimination against Jewish youths.”

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