Tel Aviv Court Says Social Protester Daphni Leef's Indictment Should Be Quashed

Police tell judge they are prepared to reach compromises with three of six social justice protestors accused of crimes during the social justice protests on Rothschild Boulevard last June; Leef says she will continue fighting for total exoneration.

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The indictment against social justice protest leader Daphni Leef should be quashed and she should be let off with a warning, Tel Aviv's Magistrate Court told prosecutors on Wednesday.

The court's recommendation to the prosecution unit of the Israel Police came during a hearing for six suspects, including Leef, arrested during a demonstration on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard on June 22 last year.

In Israel, the state is represented in certain low-level crimes by prosecutors who work for the police. Leef is accused of disturbing the peace through the use of force or threats to evade arrest and also obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty.

The police informed the court at the beginning of the hearing that they are prepared to make do with no convictions for Leef and two other demonstrators, Barak Segal and Yarom Ron, because the crimes attributed to the trio aren't serious. They said they were ready to instead require each of them to perform 60 hours of community service. The police refused to reach a similar plea agreement for two of the other suspects, however, one of who is accused of assaulting a police officer and another who has a previous criminal record. A sixth suspect, who is also accused of assaulting a police officer, is denying the jurisdiction of the court to hear his indictment.

Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Leef and three other accused suspects said, "The protesters didn't do anything except protest against the country's injustices. The writs of indictment need to be quashed."

Judge Tzahi Ouziel said that the police should at least throw out the indictment against Yarom Ron.

"I read the facts," said the judge. "Nothing is attributed to him. He needs to be taken out of the equation entirely."

The police prosecutor, attorney Rotem Hazan, responded, "Apparently it was a mistake in the writ of indictment."

Regarding Leef and Segal, the judge suggested that the police close the file with a serious warning and without any admission by the suspects to any of the facts in the indictment, or any punishment. Also with respect to the female suspect accused of assaulting a police officer, the judge suggested that the charges of the indictment be reduced and said that her actions didn't fit the crimes attributed to her.

The police prosecutor said that it was hard to believe that her supervisor would agree to quash the indictments and suffice with a warning.

Leef had an outburst during the court hearing. "Why do I need to come to a compromise?" she said. Afterward, the judge allowed the other accused suspects to voice their opinions. "The goal is deterrence," said Segal. "This is a political court hearing."

At the end of the hearing Leef clarified that she wouldn't agree to a compromise, only to a quashing of the indictment and complete exoneration. "I don't need to apologize for the fact that I took part in a legal gathering, maintaining the protest," said Leef. "I don't see a real possibility here to compromise or to fold. I want exoneration in court. I didn't do anything wrong. I also don't want this to be the message that I send to young people in this country so they won't take a step back from what they believe in just because someone warns them. It's undemocratic."

Daphni Leef, the unofficial leader of the protest movement.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Daphni Leef being arrested.Credit: Alon Ron

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