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Victim of mistaken identity sues police

Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado; Photo credit: Honenu

Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado; Photo credit: Honenu

Thursday, October 3, 2019, 9:29 Due to the similarity of his name to that of someone who posted incitement against the LGBT community and the Ashdod Pride March on Facebook, David Cohen, an approximately 50 year-old K’far Saba resident, was interrogated twice, detained, and placed under complete house arrest for five days. Additionally, his cell phone was confiscated and he was obligated to post 2,500 NIS bail. The incident occurred in July. Cohen is currently suing the Israeli Police for 70,000 NIS over false detention, unreasonable release conditions, violation of privacy (confiscation of cell phone), illegal handcuffing, and slander. The suit, which was filed by Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado on behalf of Cohen, states, “It is difficult to estimate the damages caused by the circumstances, the pressure on the family, the stress on his wife, the need to hide certain stages of the proceedings from the children and the grandchildren, the shock of the detention, handcuffing, humiliation, the Kafkaesque process, and loss of work days.” Cohen’s routine was interrupted. He had to inform his daughter and her children that he couldn’t visit them on Shabbat, cancel a class he regularly gave at his synagogue, inform the congregation that he couldn’t read from the Torah when he was scheduled to do, and cancel hosting two of his children. He was forced to leave his car in Jerusalem, where he had been detained, and because the parking fees were mounting, he had to ask someone to pick up his car so that sum would not increase further. Additionally, after Cohen publicized in the media how the police had mistakenly identified him, the police slandered him on a Channel 12 (Israeli) program. From the suit: “[Reporter] Moshe Nussbaum read a response from the police which included baseless defamation, which was knowingly transmitted, according to which the claimant had publicized offensive statements objecting to the LGBT community in the past, which is completely untrue. “Furthermore, Nussbaum stated in the name of the Israeli Police that the claimant does work in Ashdod, and in conclusion stated that according to intelligence evaluations the claimant is the wanted man. This media defense is a fraudulent defense, which was publicized for the ratings on Channel 12, to the whole world, and was an acute insult to the claimant, many of whose acquaintances asked him about the defamation by the Israeli Police. This caused the claimant and his family an additional and unjustified insult.” In conclusion: “The opinion stated by the Israeli Police to the media put the claimant in full public view as not only a criminal who publicized a post which insulted, threatened, and endangered the LGBT community, but also as a liar who had the arrogance to mislead the public.” David Cohen, who resides in K’far Saba and works in Jerusalem, has no connection to the City of Ashdod. The claim by the police is based on the name of the person who posted the incitement on Facebook, David Tzvi: The claimant’s full name is David-Tzvi Cohen. During an interrogation at the Russian Compound, Cohen explained to the police that his Facebook account, which he opened ten years ago, is completely inactive and that he does not use his middle name. Despite his explanation, Cohen was detained and taken to the Ashdod Police Station, where his cell phone was confiscated and, as stated above, he was obligated to post 2,500 NIS bail before being released to house arrest. His phone was returned three weeks after his detention. However the bail money is still being held by the police. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who is representing Cohen: “The Israeli Police failed glaringly by not taking the necessary steps to prevent the murder of Shira Banki, z”l, at the 2015 Pride March. The police had been aware of the danger [of an attack during the march]. Because of that failure, which concerned a specific individual whom the police knew was a definite threat, today thousands of right-wing activists are paying the price, year after year. “The police are attempting to cover up for their failure with extreme over-policing, which deviates from every norm, of every right-wing activist and religious figure who tries to protest Pride Marches. The case of David Cohen is a typical example of this, unfortunately one of many. Democracy ends at the Pride March, when the Israeli Police attempt to ‘cover up a misdemeanor with a crime’.”

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