GSS to transfer ‘confidential’ appraisal

Sunday, November 5, 2017, 13:44 The Supreme Court of Israel accepted the appeal filed by the attorneys of a minor accused of involvement with ‘price tag’ incidents and obligated the Attorney General’s office to transfer to the defendant’s attorneys the ‘confidential’ appraisal by the GSS (Shabak), despite decisive opposition by the GSS and the Attorney General’s Office. The defendant, a minor from one of the communities in the Binyamin region, is accused of involvement with a series of ‘price tag’ incidents. As part of the investigative material which the State of Israel intends to present against the minor during his trial, there is an appraisal by a GSS agent known as ‘Meir’, which the GSS has refused to transfer to the minor’s defense attorneys. The transfer is conditioned on the attorneys signing on an agreement of confidentiality. The agreement of confidentiality which the GSS wanted Honenu Attorneys Chai Haber and Yehuda Shushan, who are representing the minor, to sign states that, “transferring the document to another constitutes a criminal offense.” The document also states that the attorneys must keep the appraisal completely confidential and not transfer it to anyone, “either in writing or orally, either tacitly or explicitly, and not by any other means,” and that revealing the appraisal to others, including family members and employees of the security system, is likely to damage the security of the State. The attorneys refused to sign on the agreement of confidentiality, and demanded that the ‘appraisal’ be completely unconditionally transferred to them with all of the investigative material as is required by law. The attorneys noted that the demand by the GSS does not adhere to the letter of the law and that the GSS must decide whether to forgo the use of the appraisal or to take out an official certificate of confidentiality signed by the Minister of Defense as is customary in criminal trials in which the State intends to use evidence, the disclosure of which could damage the security of the State. Additionally, the attorneys claimed that signing an agreement of confidentiality would harm the defense of the minor because they intend to consult with a wide range of professionals regarding the appraisal. The Central District Court rejected the demand by the attorneys and ruled that the GSS is not required to transfer the appraisal without the signature of the attorneys on the agreement of confidentiality. The attorneys did not relent, and filed an appeal on the decision with the Supreme Court of Israel. In a deliberation which took place at the Supreme Court, Attorney Schweitzer from the Attorney General’s office, who represented the position of the GSS, claimed that if the appraisal reached the hands of the defense, it would, “reveal to the defense the way the GSS reaches conclusions,” and therefore transferring the document would damage the GSS and its war on ‘price tag’ incidents. After the deliberation the Supreme Court accepted the position of the attorneys and ordered the Attorney General’s office to transfer to the attorneys the appraisal unconditionally and in full. Honenu Attorneys Chai Haber and Yehuda Shushan welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court: “We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court expressed its decisive opinion, overturned the decision of the [Central] District Court, and thereby brought about the end of the attempts by the Attorney General’s office and the GSS to interfere with and damage the defense of the defendant.” Additionally the attorneys explained that the decision has ramifications beyond the trial of the minor, “It should be noted that the decision does not pertain only to this defendant, but rather expresses an opinion on the illegality of the start of a trend, which we identified, in the framework of which the Attorney General’s office and the GSS apparently reason that judicial and legal procedures do not apply to them. One must understand that a defendant has the right to a fair handling of the proceedings in his case, and also the right to obtain all of the evidence in his file. These rights are part of the basic rights of any proper method of trial and any attempt by the enforcement authorities to violate these principles should concern all of us. We hope that this decision will put an end to these practices.”

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