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Three youths suspected in first “price tag” case to reach indictment exonerated

Wednesday , November 13, 2013 16:11 In September 2011 three youths were detained in the Shiloh Bloc region on suspicion of planning a “price tag” attack after they were stopped while walking on the road between two hilltops one hundred meters from a vehicle – not even theirs – in which there were bottles of gasoline. This was the first “price tag” case in which an indictment was filed against the suspects. On Monday, November 11, 2013 at the completion of a prolonged legal battle the three youths were completely exonerated, over two years after they were first detained. (See here and here for posts on the detention.) The exoneration constitutes a harsh blow to the Attorney General’s office, which filed the indictment, and to the police: both regarded the case as one of their “flagship” cases. The National Unit of Serious and International Crime Investigations had declared the apprehension of the youth “an accomplishment”. On the morning of Wednesday, November 13 one of the released youths responded, “For over two years our lives have been a nightmare: they kept us in remand under severe conditions and falsely accused us of serious crimes. If we had not had a religious appearance and the police and the Attorney General’s office had not been so eager to achieve ‘accomplishments’ at the expense of tarnishing the reputation of an entire population, we would not have gone through such a difficult, tortuous legal battle over something we never did.” The three youths were detained in September 2011 when inflammable material, gasoline, was found in a vehicle – not even theirs – one hundred meters from where they were walking between two hilltops. This and the tools they were carrying were perceived by the police as grounds for being suspected of being on their way to commit a “price tag” attack. The youths claimed that they were renovating a structure close to the site at which they were detained. Their alibi received more legitimacy when the soldiers who had detained them testified that at the time of their detention that the three youths called by name a local resident who was able to verify their alibi. Also from listening in on their conversations it became clear that the youth had work contacts with local residents concerning renovations on a structure near the site. Representing the youths as public defenders were attorneys Eitan Lehman, Michael Ironi and Moriah Sasson. Honenu advised and assisted with handling the case. Attorney Michael Ironi said today (Wednesday , November 13) that, “It is a shame that the Attorney General’s office chose to conduct a trial against the defendants. From the beginning of the case the evidence seemed weak and circumstantial. The suffering caused to the defendants is also regrettable.” Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz, who assisted in handling the case, stated that, “Even from the beginning it was obvious that much ado was being made out of nothing and now the court has confirmed. It is unfortunate that in the process leading to their exoneration the rights of innocent youths were severely injured over a long period of time.”

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