'Police called us smelly Bedouin, then they started to beat us'
Sabri al-Jarjawi, a 25-year-old Bedouin man, died of wounds his family says were the result of police brutality.
Sabri al-Jarjawi, a 25-year-old resident of the Negev town of Segev Shalom who was severely beaten by police in Ashkelon three months ago, died of his wounds last weekend.
Al-Jarjawi's family claims that two detectives from the Lachish district brutally beat him after calling him a "smelly Bedouin." The family has petitioned the High Court, requesting that both detectives be suspended from duty and that the investigation into al-Jarjawi's death be quickly concluded.
The police internal affairs division responsible for investigating officers said any decision on a possible suspension would be made following the results of pathological tests on the victim's body.
The incident happened on the night of March 21 of this year. Al-Jarjawi and another friend, Ismail al-Mahrab, were lounging along the Dalilah Beach in Ashkelon. According to a statement given by al-Mahrab, the two men were sitting in a car when they were accosted by the detectives, who later identified themselves as police officers.
The policemen asked to see identification, searched the two men, and combed their car. According to al-Mahrab, after the officers were unable to find anything suspicious, they told the two men that the beach was ill-suited for "smelly Bedouin," and began to beat them. Al-Mahrab said neither he nor al-Jarjawi offered any physical or verbal resistance.
Al-Mahrab said that at one point he was handcuffed by the detectives, who then proceeded to beat al-Jarjawi with a flashlight until he lost consciousness. The officers radioed another police cruiser nearby, and one of the officers who noticed al-Jarjawi's state summoned an ambulance to the scene.
Law enforcement officials gave a different account of events. According to police, during the search, one of the men hurled drugs that was in his possession and began to assault one of the officers, injuring him. The detectives then resorted to using force in order to bring al-Mahrab and al-Jarjawi under control.
Al-Jarjawi was admitted to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, and subsequently transferred in serious condition to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva. Hospital officials said al-Jarjawi arrived unconscious after having sustained head trauma. He had since been breathing with the aid of a respirator.
Hospital officials said Al-Jarjawi's doctors believed the chances for a recovery were slim. The patient succumbed to his injuries last weekend, and his body was transferred for further examination at the Abu Kabir forensic facility.
Dr. Mansur al-Jarjawi said his brother Sabri was going for a night out on the beach. "He was married, the father of a daughter, and he worked in nursery schools while he was getting ready to begin his studies in university," he told Haaretz on Thursday.
The family's attorney, Avi Azulay, said Sabri had no criminal past. The police's internal investigation has been ongoing for the last three months, the family claims. No new information, however, has been obtained, they say.
In its petition to the High Court of Justice, the family is demanding to know why the investigation has yet to be completed, why there have been no indictments filed, and why the detectives have not been suspended from the beat.
The police internal affairs division released a statement, saying "the investigation was opened immediately on the night of the incident. As part of the probe, evidence has been gathered and many investigative actions have been taken with the aim of obtaining the findings as to the circumstances of the complainant's death, which we cannot detail because the investigation has not yet been completed. At this time, we await the results of the pathology reports and a decision based on a number of items of evidence will be made as to the continuation of the handling of this case."