A senior Military Intelligence investigator who has been accused of abusing suspects is suing the Defense Ministry for NIS 5.5 million. The investigator is accusing the ministry of turning him into a scapegoat after Lebanese militia operative Mustafa Dirani accused his Israeli interrogators of torturing and raping him.
The chief investigator in that case, who has been identified publicly only as Capt. George, also says the Defense Ministry endangered him by leaking his identity and depicting him as a "despicable sex offender."
Capt. George conducted most of the questioning of Dirani, who Israeli troops captured from his Lebanon home in 1994. Dirani was brought to Israel for interrogation and used as a bargaining chip aimed at securing the release of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, whose plane went down over Lebanon in 1986.
Dirani is suspected of having taken Arad captive while serving as the security chief of the Shi'ite militia, Amal.
In 2000, Dirani sued Israel for damages, charging that he was tortured and raped during the interrogation, after a former colleague of Capt. George's told Dirani's Israeli lawyer that the investigator was "brutal" and that he had witnessed him inserting a baton into a suspect's rectum.
"I saw this with my own eyes," the colleague, a colonel in the reserves, told attorney Zvi Rish in 1999. "When he put [the baton] into the rectum of a detainee and told him, 'Go ahead, sit on it.' He said, 'Go ahead, sit on the baton, and if you don't talk, it will go in.' That's what I saw."
The colonel was questioned under caution by the Israel Police in 2007 and retracted some of the allegations.
Capt. George, who served at the time as an officer at Military Intelligence Unit 504 and is now the Arab affairs adviser to the Jerusalem police, questioned Dirani for several weeks. He said he had followed the regulations and his commanders' directives, but that he had been expelled from the Israel Defense Forces after being accused of violating the law during the interrogation. He also said the army was concealing evidence that would prove his innocence.
Capt. George, who is represented by attorney Ephraim Nave, is also suing for NIS 600,000 to fund the security he said he needs now that he has been identified as the chief investigator in the Dirani interrogation.
After an internal military investigation, the military prosecution wrote an opinion indicating that Capt. George committed a serious criminal offense involving moral turpitude. He said he was later told that he was accused of extortion through the use of threats during the initial days of the Dirani interrogation.
As a result, he charged, the army decided not to keep him on and treated him as a scapegoat.
Capt. George also said the army was hiding a videotape from Dirani's interrogation showing that it was the unit commander who had interrogated Dirani while the militia operative was naked.
"That's the tape that shows that the person who pressured Dirani while he was naked was the commander of the unit and not Capt. George," the lawsuit states.
The colonel who worked with Capt. George in Unit 504 said the investigator regularly entered interrogation rooms with a baton, hit the suspect and threatened to insert it into his rectum if he lied or refused to talk. He said in one interrogation, he witnessed Capt. George stripping a suspect naked, forcing him to drink tea or coffee from a used ashtray, and shoving either shaving cream or toothpaste into the suspect's mouth.
"I was dumbfounded," the colonel said. "I would be sitting in a room and observing, and he would walk into the interrogation with brutality, dump the suspect off the bench, stomp on him, kick him, threaten him that he will [expletive] him, and if not him, then others will [expletive] him and rape him."
The colonel said the inmates were scared of Capt. George.
"He was always brutal," he said. "And I know that the detainees were scared, scared, scared of him."
An associate of Capt. George's has denied all the colonel's allegations.
"The claim was submitted yesterday to the offices of the Tel Aviv District Prosecution," said a response from the Defense Ministry. "The response of the state will be forthcoming following a review and examination of all the claims raised in the law suit."
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