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Minors suspected of arson to be released

Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 16:35 On Thursday, August 13 two minors and one adult were detained by the GSS on suspicion of arson and held under harsh conditions, including being banned from meeting with an attorney. The details of the investigation are under a gag order. On Sunday, August 16 the remand of the minors was extended by one day. The following day the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court accepted Honenu attorney Chai Haber’s pleas, ruled that there was no cause to further extend their remand and ordered them released to house arrest. The police filed an appeal with the Lod District Court demanding that the detainees remain in remand and therefore the magistrate court ordered a delay in carrying out the decision. Three deliberations on the case were scheduled for the afternoon of Monday, August 17 at the Lod District Court: one on the appeal filed by Honenu on the remand extension of an adult detained in the same case, the second on the appeal to cancel the ban on meeting with an attorney issued by the GSS to all three detainees, and the third on the appeal on the demand by the police to overturn the decision to release the two minors to house arrest. All three of the detainees complained of very harsh conditions during GSS interrogations. One of the minors claimed in court that a policeman from the Central Unit of Police beat him. The other minor said that he was kept awake for 24 hours straight. Additionally only due to intervention by the court were the youths allowed to put on tefilin and were their tzitzit returned to them after having been taken away from them when they were brought to the GSS detention center. Honenu attorney Chai Haber, who represented the detainees, said that, “The court thoroughly examined the material and did not find any evidence linking the minors to the incident attributed to them. It seems that the GSS is taking advantage of the public atmosphere in order to carry out false detentions and use unacceptable means on innocent youths. The ban on meeting with an attorney is a severe and heavy handed step which is meant only to break their spirits. I hope that the court will put an end to this.” Later in the afternoon on Monday, August 17, Lod District Court Judge Avraham Tal accepted the appeals filed by the police and ruled that the three detainees will remain in remand. The appeal filed by Honenu attorney Chai Haber was rejected. Judge Tal ruled that the two minors ordered released earlier the same day by the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court will remain in remand until Wednesday, August 19, and that the ban on meeting with an attorney placed on all three of the detainees will remain in effect until Wednesday as well. Honenu attorney Chai Haber, who represented the three detainees, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Israel on the Lod District Court’s decision on the appeal of the ban to meet with an attorney. Haber explained that despite the fact that the court has ruled that a suspect may be denied the right to meet with an attorney if there is concern about interference with the investigation or potential danger, this is a case in which this extreme measure should not be taken. According to Haber the ban in this case is meant to break the spirits of the detainees and is not necessary for the investigation, such as to prevent the disclosure of evidence or the disruption of the investigation. In addition, this case involves a property crime and not the endangerment of human life. On Wednesday, August 19 the Petah Tikva Magistrate Court ordered the release of one of the two minors. In an appeal to the Lod District Court the police demanded that carrying out the decision be delayed, however the judge refused. The minor will remain under house arrest for several days. The magistrate court judge ruled that the other minor would be released once a suitable alternative to remand is determined. On the morning of Wednesday, August 19 the ban on meeting with an attorney placed on the two minors was lifted. The two minors told Honenu attorney Uri Keinan that they had been held in a GSS detention center in a cell with a light on 24 hours a day and that they hadn’t been provided with basic sanitary facilities. Both minors were interrogated for many hours straight with their hands handcuffed behind their backs while they were also shackled to the chairs on which they were sitting. The remand of the adult detainee was extended until Sunday, August 23 and his ban on meeting with an attorney was extended by three days. Keinan, who is currently representing all three of the detainees, stated that, “I am pleased that the court accepted our pleas and ordered the release of the two minors. That fact speaks for itself.” Honenu also responded: “It seems that the GSS has decided to take advantage of the public atmosphere and, with no cause, abuse two minors. Their release indicates that from the start there was no evidence implicating them other than their fitting the description of typical ‘hilltop youth’.”

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