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Kfar Duma trial to be held in open courtroom

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Demonstration of torture method, video snapshot; Video credit: Otzma Yehudit

Sunday, October 14, 11:05, 2018 On October 14, for the first time, the Kfar Duma trial is scheduled to be held in an open courtroom. In related news, various activists started a campaign protesting “The Duma blood libel”, as they call it. Michael Fuah: “The things I discovered shocked me and I think that they should shock every law-abiding, justice-seeking citizen. One thing is clear: The arsonists who torched the house in Kfar Duma in the summer of 2015 are going around freely, even today.” On Sunday, October 14, at the Central District Court, a deliberation will take place in the Kfar Duma trial. For the first time in the case, the deliberation is expected to be held in an open courtroom. The deliberation is procedural. Dates on which testimonies in the case will be heard will be scheduled, also the Attorney General’s office is expected to inform the court and the attorneys working with Honenu on the case, Adi Keidar, Tzion Amir, Yitzhak Bam and Asher Ohion, who are representing the defendants, concerning which witnesses for the prosecution will not give testimony. The trial within a trial in which the admissibility of the defendants’ confessions was judged was held behind closed doors and far from the public eye. In dozens of deliberations GSS interrogators who had interrogated the defendants in the case under duress took the witness stand. At the end of the proceedings the court invalidated the majority of the minor’s confessions, some of Amiram Ben Uliel’s and ruled that the confessions had been extracted under duress and therefore were not legally admissible. Following the ruling the Yediot Aharonot newspaper filed a request to publicize the minutes of the trial within a trial and also to open the trial to the public. The Attorney General’s office opposed the request. The court ruled that the immunity of the GSS testimonies would remain. However the court did open further deliberations to the public, on condition that deliberations at which confidential material was brought would be closed to the public. Ben Uliel’s friends said after the decision that, “The court is afraid of the public. We are certain that from the moment that the public is exposed to the testimonies of how they [the GSS interrogators] tortured Ben Uliel, no-one will remain indifferent. Everyone should read how GSS agents calmly described how they tortured them [the defendants in the Kfar Duma case] during interrogations. Everyone will understand that it is impossible to rely on the things that the defendants said there [in the interrogation rooms].” Over the past few days various activists have begun publicizing the injustices in the case. They have opened a Facebook page under the name “Duma Blood Libel” and are active in several other forums. From the Facebook page, a description of the GSS torture: “In broad daylight they jump on a guy who is innocently walking down the street, beat him, handcuff him and then he disappears for 20 days without seeing a lawyer. During those 20 days he is abused. They [the GSS interrogators] drive him crazy and brutally torture him. In the end they extract from him a confession to murder, which is not supported by any factual evidence. Can this happen in a Jewish and democratic state which prides itself on the human rights it grants even to terrorists?? It happens!!!” See here for more descriptions of torture experienced by detainees in the Kfar Duma case and a report of an attempted suicide by one of the detainees. One of the administrators of the page is Michael Fuah, a resident of the Lower Galilee, an educator and a social activist who previously served as the director of Manhigut Yehudit and as advisor to Minister of Welfare and Social Services Welfare Moshe Kachlon. Fuah wrote: “As a citizen I followed the Duma incident from the beginning, and as I followed I began to doubt that the perpetrators were Jews. Has the investigation explored this direction? “After the decision in the trial within a trial was publicized, which I read in its entirety, it became clear to me that the GSS had lied about the torture. I decided to thoroughly research the matter. The things I discovered shocked me and I think that they should shock every law-abiding, justice-seeking citizen. One thing is clear: The arsonists who torched the house in Kfar Duma in the summer of 2015 are going around freely, even today.” Fuah added that what he discovered would be publicized on the Facebook page. Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, the director of Honenu, said that the Kfar Duma trial is reminiscent of the Ma’atz Gang trial: “The Duma trial is today’s Ma’atz trial. With the Ma’atz Gang, after innocent people sat for years in jail through no fault of their own, it turned out that their confessions and the recreation of the crime were extracted from them by force. The criminals remained at large. “In the Duma trial the [Supreme] Court ruled that the confessions were extracted under duress and many of the confessions by Ben Uliel and the minor were invalidated. And so it is not clear why the court made an artificial differentiation, and allowed the continuation of Ben Uliel’s trial on the basis of confessions extracted under duress and by torture. “It seems that also the judges understood the problem with the legality [of the torture], but lacked the courage, which [I believe] will come later, to rule that it is impossible to base anything on confessions extracted under duress.” Meidad added that, “The investigation is tainted. The investigators were not seeking justice, but rather confessions, and the results were dismal. The murderers from the Duma arson attack are free, and perhaps we will never find out what happened that night in Kfar Duma.”

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