House arrest conditions eased for Kochav HaShahar case defendants

Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 18:54 On Wednesday, June 10 the Israeli Supreme Court partially accepted the appeal filed by Honenu attorneys Adi Kedar and David HaLevi and ordered that the house arrest conditions of the defendants in the recent Kochav HaShahar case be eased. The defendants, all residents of Kochav HaShahar and nearby communities, were detained on Thursday, April 16 on suspicion of assaulting Arab shepherds and a police detective disguised as an Arab who approached Kochav HaShahar in a staged incident. Three of the defendants will be released from complete house arrest to house arrest only at night and an Adei Ad resident currently serving house arrest in the north of Israel will be allowed to return home for house arrest. The other defendant in the case is already under house arrest only at night. Additionally the court ruled that the evidence against three of the defendants is not strong and the evidence against the other two is weak. One of the justices mentioned the destruction by one of the police detectives of the note on which he recorded his initial testimony of the incident in real time: “It could be that it [destroying the note] will harm the potential for a conviction at the end of proceedings.” On Sunday, May 3, Honenu attorney David HaLevi filed a complaint with the Police Investigation Unit for threats by policemen to detainees, false testimony given by policemen and obstruction of justice by policemen and detectives. Concerning the destruction of the note, HaLevi claimed that it constituted disruption of the investigation and destruction of evidence. “We are satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision,” said HaLevi, who is representing three of the defendants. “The court accepted our opinion concerning the evidence and drastically changed the conditions set for my clients. The court ruled that the strength of the evidence is not strong and stressed that destruction of important evidence by a policeman could harm the chances of indictment in the case. This decision sits well with the claim that the accusation is forced and based on flawed evidence, including, among others, illegal actions by the police, among them destruction of crucial evidence.” The five defendants, all residents of Kochav HaShahar and nearby communities, were detained on Thursday, April 16 on suspicion of assaulting Arab shepherds and a police detective disguised as an Arab who approached Kochav HaShahar in a staged incident. The police intended to draw residents of the community to the site, expecting a clash when the residents tried to remove the Arabs. The incident started when four Arabs, one of whom was later revealed to be a police detective disguised as an Arab, approached the hilltop communities, Givat Ma’aleh Shlomo and Givat HaBaladim, adjacent to Kochav HaShahar with their herd. Arabs do not usually approach this area and therefore one of the residents who noticed the presence of the Arabs summoned additional residents to the scene in order to examine why Arabs entered the site. A disturbance broke out after which five residents were detained. A video clip recorded by the police proves that the five detainees were not involved with assaulting the Arab shepherd, however the Attorney General’s office accuses them of participating in the assault. The undercover operation by the policemen, some of whom were waiting in ambush to detain residents, received extensive public criticism, including a letter sent by Knesset Member Yariv Levin to Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the Internal Security Minister, an announcement publicized by Kochav HaShahar’s secretariat and a demonstration held opposite the Sha’ar Binyamin Police Station. Among other points raised in his letter, Levin wrote: “I request your intervention to examine the details of the incident, to formulate clear procedures, and to reach conclusions in order to prevent a repetition of similar incidents in the future.”

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