More King David’s Tomb detainees unconditionally released – Update

Sunday, May 25, 2014 15:53 The Jerusalem Magistrate Court has unconditionally released many of the activists recently detained by the Israeli Police on the grounds that they would cause disturbances during the Pope’s visit. The detentions were not based on evidence and had no legal basis. Despite the large number of detainees unconditionally released the police continue to detain activists. On the night of Saturday, May 24 (after Shabbat) detectives from the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police detained three Jewish youths, two adults and one minor, who have been active in the protests against the Pope’s scheduled visit to Israel and in particular to King David’s Tomb. They were detained in various locations in Jerusalem and the Binyamin region on the grounds that they would cause disturbances during the Pope’s visit and brought to the offices of the Department of Nationalist Crime in the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police where they were interrogated on suspicion of “conspiring to commit a crime”. Police interrogators did not inform them of any specific charge but rather made a general claim according to which they were planning activities protesting the visit of the Pope. During the night police interrogators from the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police suggested that they be released to house arrest until the end of the Pope’s visit, however all three of the detainees refused to sign on an order. The police also requested that the Commander of the Home Front Command, Major General Ayal Eisenberg sign an administrative order banning the detainees from entering Jerusalem until the end of the Pope’s visit. He refused. The detainees were brought to a deliberation on the morning of Sunday, May 25 at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. In court the police investigator, Sergeant Major Yossi Ovadia, demanded that the detainees be released to house arrest, claiming that they were dangerous due to “suspicion of causing a racially motivated public disturbance”. The police representative delayed the start of the deliberation numerous times claiming that he was waiting for a confidential document from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Honenu attorney David HaLevi, who is representing the three detainees, pleaded that it was a false detention and demanded their immediate and unconditional release. “What we see here today is in fact the unacceptable and illegitimate use of detentions, which may be suitable for some states, but not for a democratic state which has procedures, including those of freedom of expression, freedom of protest, and the right to liberty,” said HaLevi during the deliberation. Also HaLevi stated that detention warrants had been issued and had been in the hands of the police already since the previous Wednesday. Despite the fact that the three youths had been taken into the custody of the police for various reasons in the area of King David’s Tomb, the police did not enforce the warrants and released the youths. Only on Saturday night did the police suddenly decide that they were “dangerous”. At the end of the deliberation Judge Hagit Mac-Kalmanovitch agreed to HaLevi’s request and ordered the immediate and unconditional release of the three detainees. “I did not find in the evidence a reasonable suspicion to commit a crime,” wrote the judge. “Also if it is possible to learn from the evidence that the defendants have any intents to carry out acts of various sorts, it is not clear that any of the acts constitute a crime, and in any event these are acts which could be carried out in the future and not crimes which have already been committed… The authority to issue a preventative detention order in order to prevent a crime from being committed in the future is not given to the court at this stage of the proceedings.” Judge Mac-Kalmanovitch also added criticism directed towards the investigators of the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police, who found it difficult to answer questions posed by the judge during the deliberation. “It would be best if plaintiffs with legal training appeared in court for requests of this sort so that it would be possible to hold a substantial discussion on the legal questions which arise.” Honenu attorney David HaLevi said in response to the detention that, “The conduct of the police is scandalous. The police are behaving like thought police in an inappropriate attempt to shut people up. The fact that the court rejected out of hand the request for house arrest and unconditionally released my clients speaks for itself. In the coming days my clients will consider filing a civil suit for the serious damages caused to them as a result of the unnecessary and meaningless false detention.” Honenu also responded to the courts’ rulings: “During the past week leading up to the Pope’s visit we have been witness to the police losing their senses. They have repeatedly detained worshipers and activists without any legal justification. Honenu’s attorneys have time after time brought about the release of detainees and we are considering now the possibility of a series of lawsuits against the police for their false detentions.”

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