GSS remand conditions: Interrogations 21 hours a day, cells meant for terrorists
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 12:12 Honenu attorney Adi Kedar reports that GSS interrogators have been severely abusing youths suspected of involvement with “Price Tag” incidents. The youths have been interrogated for 21 hours a day, including on Shabbat and are being placed under extreme physical and psychological pressure. One of the youths fainted during interrogation. On the morning of Thursday, May 22 Honenu attorney Adi Kedar sent a letter of complaint to the GSS Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller. On the night of Tuesday, May 20 Honenu attorney Adi Kedar met for the first time with two of the detainees being held at the GSS Kishon Detention Center, one of them after 8 days in remand and the other after 11 days in remand. Kedar is also representing two other detainees. Honenu’s staff does not recall hearing during the past few years such harsh descriptions of GSS interrogations as they have heard from these two youth. Honenu attributes the severity of the interrogations to the unreasonably high priority being given to “Price Tag” incidents by the media and by politicians. In his letter to the GSS Interrogatee Complaints Comptroller Honenu attorney Adi Kedar describes the abuse suffered by the detainees, especially by the 18-year-old who has been in remand since Sunday, May 11, and calls for the immediate suspension of the team of interrogators. The 18-year-old has been interrogated every day for 21 hours, including on Shabbat. The interrogations began at 6:00 in the morning and continued until 3:00 the following morning. “Even without considering the sleep deprivation, the violation of freedom of religion and religious belief of my client constitutes a hate crime no less severe than the baseless charges against him,” wrote Kedar in his letter. Additionally during the interrogations the detainee was seated handcuffed to a chair as his interrogators applied severe psychological pressure on him, including incessant shouting from close range by several interrogators simultaneously. He was also shoved and humiliated in other ways. During one of the interrogations he was choked by an interrogator after he dozed off. During another he fainted after an interrogator screamed in his ear after he dozed off due to the severe physical conditions in which he was being held. A medic was rushed in to treat him. The detainees are being held in harsh conditions in cells with neither a bed nor a toilet. “The cell is meant for terrorists and the fact the the severity of the suspicions supposedly justifies putting them in a cell such as this is shocking. [The suspicions] do not even justify putting terrorists in these extremely small cells without beds or toilets,” wrote Kedar. “This constitutes debasement and violation of human dignity. His guilt has not even been established yet, not to mention that not even the accusation against him is well-founded!!” Kedar continues and reasons that the humiliating methods and manipulations used on the detainees, “apparently express the distress of [the interrogators of the Jewish Department of the GSS] and their superiors following their repeated failures over the past decade,” added Kedar. “The pressure placed on the interrogators is what brings them to this unacceptable and shocking conduct.” The 16-year-old detainee with whom Kedar met similarly described his interrogations and added that there is another 18-year-old detainee in the GSS facility who was detained two days ago and has not yet been allowed to meet with an attorney. Honenu is concerned that he is also being interrogated under similar conditions. (See here for an update on his case.) “This case is another low point of the conduct of the Jewish Department of the GSS, which is an unjustified financial burden and a waste of public resources and funds,” said Kedar on the morning of Thursday, May 22. “The GSS interrogators have reached a nadir of violent behavior which indicates the crisis there are in and the pressure they feel from politicians. We hope that [realization of correct] priorities and the exposure of this behavior will put a stop to using extreme measures in cases such as this.” The first cracks in the case have started to appear. On Wednesday, May 21 the court ordered the release one of the minors detained on Wednesday, May 14. He was released after an alibi was presented for him. During interrogations the GSS interrogators did not inform him of the date of the incident with which he was suspected to have been involved and therefore he could not give an alibi immediately upon his detention. The police announced that they would appeal the release. On Thursday, May 22 a deliberation will take place on the appeal. Throughout Thursday, May 22 the remaining four GSS detainees will be brought to court for deliberations on requests which the police have made on their cases. Outside of the Petah Tikva Courthouse the families and friends of the detainees will demonstrate in protest of the harsh conditions under which they are being held and the orders issued them banning them from meeting with an attorney. Honenu attorneys Barak Friedman and Adi Kedar are representing the detainees.