Was the police lineup contaminated?
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
Monday, August 26, 2019, 14:17 One month after he was interrogated for the first time by the police, A. was summoned to a police lineup at the Merchav David (Old City) Police Station in Jerusalem. A., a 19-year old resident of the Old City, is suspected of assaulting two Arab minors in the Old City of Jerusalem. He denies all charges and claims that he has been framed throughout the entire case. In the background of the case is a dispute between the students of the yeshiva which A. attends and an Arab resident of the Old City who lives near the yeshiva and his friends. In the course of the on-going dispute, the minors were brought to the police station to complain about the supposed assault. A. reported to the lineup and was identified by the minors. However there has been a series of irregular events which brought Honenu Attorney Rehavia Piltz, who is representing A., to send an urgent letter pointing out serious contamination of the lineup to the Merchav David Police Station. In his urgent letter, Piltz wrote that the police had sent a transport vehicle to bring the minors who had allegedly been injured to the police station. In addition to the unusual procedure itself, there is a concern that an official from the police department accompanied the minors and discussed particulars of the lineup with them during the ride. The concern was accentuated when the conduct of the minors during the lineup was unnatural and raised suspicions. Piltz wrote: “The incident in question occurred one month ago, and there is no dispute that it was a isolated event. However to my surprise the 12-year old girl immediately and without hesitation identified my client, and also the 7-year old boy who entered after her identified him without any uncertainty.” After “connecting the dots”, Piltz came to the conclusion that someone had coached the minors during the ride to the lineup. In order to ensure the rights of his client, Piltz turned to the interrogator who was at the station at the time and asked her to relay a question to the minors: Had anyone shown them photographs of the suspect before the lineup? Her response increased his suspicions. She stated that she could not ask the minors any questions without receiving authorization from the officer in charge of interrogations, and at that time she was unable to contact him. The interrogator evaded Piltz’s questions, which were left unanswered. Following the series of suspicious occurrences, and after not receiving answers to his questions, Piltz sent a letter to the officer in charge of interrogations at the Merchav David Police, demanding that the police lineup be invalidated because its flaws constitute contamination of the lineup. In addition to invalidating the lineup, Piltz demanded that an investigation be opened against the complainants on charges of disruption of the investigation. A response from the investigating unit has yet to be received. Honenu Attorney Rehavia Piltz: “We have witnessed another instance of excess motivation [to incriminate] Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem. Surprisingly, and not according to custom, the police provided transport to complainants. Additionally, during the lineup a suspicion was raised that the complainants had been coached for the lineup. With various excuses the police interrogator refused my request that they complainants be asked who briefed them before the lineup. The general conduct raises a concern of disruption of the investigation. We will see to it that the matter is investigated.”