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GSS detainees’ gag order partially lifted

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

Honenu Attorney Chai Haber; Photo credit: Honenu
Honenu Attorney Chai Haber; Photo credit: Honenu

Thursday, January 9, 2020, 17:00 On Thursday, January 9, despite attempts by the police to prevent it, the Central District Court in Lod upheld the ruling by Petah Tikva Magistrates Court Judge Ophir Katavii-Rivlin and allowed the publication of detainees’ reports that during interrogations the GSS had severely violated their rights. GSS interrogators deprived them of continuous sleep and brutally interrogated them. Although details of the accusations against the detainees are still under a gag order, the court allowed the fact that the alleged misdemeanors are security-related to be publicized. In her decision, Judge Katavii-Rivlin noted the sleep deprivation that the detainees had undergone: “Unfortunately, as I had become aware in the case of the other suspect, this suspect was also interrogated during the small hours of the night,” and leveled criticism at the interrogators: “This situation in which the suspect is denied continuous sleep and then taken from his cell to be interrogated in the middle of the night, is unacceptable. I did not find any justification for this harmful manner of interrogation. Under these circumstances, when I found that the rights of the suspect are being violated in the most basic way, [I determined that] there is no option other than to closely monitor the interrogation, in order to ensure that the rights of the suspect are honored.” The specifics of the sleep deprivations are detailed in Judge Katavii-Rivlin’s decision. On 02-03/01/2020 GSS interrogations were carried out from 10:00 until 12:05, again between 17:10 and 17:35, from 20:45 until 21:55, and from 22:20 until 2:10. After a 20-minute break the detainee was brought to another interrogation from 2:30 until 3:30. Without a break an additional interrogation was carried out from 3:30 to 4:30. The interrogation resumed at 11:00 and ended at 15:00. At 16:45 the interrogation resumed again until 19:05. Again without a break, an additional interrogation was carried out from 19:05 until 4:30. From 10:30 until 19:10 the interrogation continued, “with breaks being taken during the interrogation”. Judge Katavii-Rivlin asked the police representatives why interrogations were conducted late at night and why the suspect was allowed to stay in his cell for only a short time before he was taken back for further interrogation. Their reply was: “GSS interrogations, including this interrogation, are not pleasant.” Also on 04-05/01/2020 interrogations were carried out late at night. The detainee was interrogated between 19:10 and 4:30, with a 45-minute break between 20:50 and 21:35. The following morning the interrogation resumed from 10:30 until 12:30. In the evening the detainee was interrogated from 19:25 until 23:55 with a 40-minute break. Without a break, the detainee was again interrogated, from 23:55 until 2:25. After a 15-minute break, interrogation resumed from 2:40 until 4:32. In addition to the sleep deprivation, the detainees complained about the brutality they had experienced during interrogations. One of the detainees reported that the interrogators had bent his arms and handcuffed and leg-cuffed him in a particularly painful way, such that he attempted to barricade himself in the toilet stall in order to delay his return to the interrogation room. The police attempted to prevent the publication of the rights violations by imposing a gag order on the publication of the investigation, and asked the court to leave the order standing. After the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court allowed publication, the police appealed to the Central District Court in Lod, which lifted the order on Thursday, January 9. Honenu Attorney Adi Keidar: “Unfortunately we have again encountered an incident of extreme rights violations by the police and the GSS. This time the height of it was that they also tried to conceal the truth from the public by preventing its publication. I am certain that after the public is exposed to the rights violations, the incident will be investigated and examined. The GSS continues to abuse and torture interrogatees, young suspects. These actions must be examined and dealt with, urgently and with the utmost severity.” Honenu Attorney Chai Haber: “The investigation is scandalous. The GSS and the police are again attempting to solve cases by detaining and torturing innocent individuals. It is important to emphasize that the suspects were not detained because of anything that they had done, but rather due to a claim by the GSS that they might be planning to do something in the future. In other words the GSS and the Israeli Police have become the ‘thought police’.” Haber added: “It is shocking to discover that the correct conclusions were not drawn [from the Kfar Duma case] and the torture continues. The client whom I am representing complained to me about long interrogations, which included sleep deprivation, sexual harassment, abusing, shouting and being threatened. An appropriate complaint has been transferred to the relevant authorities in the hope that someone will put an end to this barbarian treatment.” Honenu Attorney Amir Bracha: “At this stage of the case, when we are already after the third remand extension, things are becoming clearer. This case will apparently be closed very quickly, just as it was opened, and the suspects will be released. This is understood in light of the pressure that the investigating unit of the police and the GSS are under, which brings them to act in such a harshly extreme manner. “Issues which arose during interrogation and are in the court minutes indicate that the situation of the suspects is not simple. I hope that someone there comes to his senses and that the suspects will be released to their homes soon. All in all, they are 18-year-old youths, and one 15-year-old minor.” Honenu Attorney Avichai Hajbi on the rights violations by GSS interrogators: “It is a shame that the General Security Service has not drawn the correct conclusions and studied the ruling by the Central District Court in the Duma case. Their conduct leads us to the conclusion that there is no option other than to understand that the GSS regards the court decisions as non-binding ‘suggestions’.” The detainees are suspected of planning a property crime and two of them met with an attorney for the first time on Wednesday, after six days of remand. During the meeting they reported serious violations of their rights by GSS interrogators. Honenu Attorneys Chai Haber, Adi Keidar, Nati Rom, Amir Bracha and Avichai Hajbi are expected to file a complaint on the matter. Thursday, January 9, 2020, 17:54 Honenu would like to call our readers’ attention to the fact that the HaAretz and Walla! networks initiated the request and pushed for the gag order to be lifted.

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