The Jerusalem District Court has released two men accused of armed burglary after the court found that a police informant had framed them and the prosecution had not watched the taped conversations between the accused and the informant.
Judge Nava Ben-Or said the incident "required a close internal inspection both in the investigative unit and the prosecution."
The men, Alaa Jatit and Mohand Abu Nama, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, were arrested about a month ago on suspicion of armed burglaries of homes in the neighborhood. They were released on Thursday.
The two were charged separatedly on burglary and illegal weapons charges; Jatit was also charged with one count of extortion and discharging a firearm.
Most of the evidence was based on testimony of the informant in the cell with Abu Nama, who said the latter had told him about the crimes and implicated Jatit. The pair were remanded four times based on the informant's testimony, spending a month behind bars.
But after studying the tape of the conversation between Jatit and the informant and reading the transcript of the conversations between the informant and Abu Nama, Mohammad Khalaily, Jatit's public defender, realized that there was no connection between the informant's testimony about his conversation with Jatit and the actual recorded conversation.
The prosecution argued in court that the transcripts do not represent what was said because portions of the tape were unclear, and those were the portions containing the incriminating evidence. However, Khalaily demonstrated that the tapes were quite clear.
During the hearing, it also emerged that the prosecutors had not watched the tapes documenting the encounter between the accused and the informant.
The court ordered the prosecution to respond to the claims, and two days later, the prosecution responded that after "a reexamination of the material and clarification of other matters" the state was retracting its request for a remand.
Subsequently, the prosecution dropped the burglary and firearms charges altogether, leaving only the extortion charge against Jatit.
The Justice Ministry said the informant's version had been checked and found to be correct,and that the prosecution's request to drop the remand was not based on that issue. However, the ministry also said the police and the prosecution had decided to draw conclusions in order to learn from the incident.
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