Zoabi Questions Fairness of Police Treatment, Demands Probe Into Threats on Her Life

MK suspected of incitement to violence and insulting a public servant requests details of police investigation against her prior to questioning.

Jack Khoury
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MK Haneen Zoabi, in blue shirt and sunglasses, arguing with policemen in November 2013.Credit: Eliahu Hershkovitz
Jack Khoury

MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan over the weekend to obtain the minimal factual basis for the charges on which a police investigation against her are being based. She was supposed to report for questioning today on and insulting a public servant.

Zoabi’s attorneys, Hassan Jabareen and Misana Morani for Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, argued in a letter that a criminal interrogation under caution constitutes a legal action, in that it affects the legal rights and duties of the person being questioned, and that legal consultation in such an instance requires referral not just to the material of the investigation – to which any suspect is entitled – but also consideration of the very legality of an investigation against an MK who enjoys special privileges on the basis of the immunity law.

Jabareen also stressed that this request did not refer to all the investigative material possessed by the prosecution – a right that usually arises following the decision to file an indictment – but to the description of the events and the charges that are the subjects of the probe.

At the same time, MK Zoabi also requested to be given all information about the police handling of complaints she made concerning threats on her life and incitement to violence against her. Her lawyers wrote in the letter: “It bears noting that the Israel Police’s insistence on summoning our client for immediate questioning (and which initially insisted on conducting this questioning during the Id al-Fitr holiday) on matters that, according to media reports, are not of the kind for which the police usually conducts a lightning-swift investigation, when it is not opening a criminal investigation into the threats and incitement directed against MK Zoabi, leads our client to suspect that the police is acting against her in this way due to foreign motivations that are not pertinent.”

Zoabi’s lawyers also said: “This becomes all the more urgent in light of the incitement to violence against our client, who now must have a personal bodyguard due to an intelligence assessment that there is a serious threat of physical harm or risk to her life. The serious suspicion of a lack of minimal fairness on the part of the investigating authority is strengthened, for one thing, by police statements in the press to the effect that ‘the investigation is just a technicality, the indictment is already prepared.’”

In the same letter, which was also sent to Police Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, head of the national fraud investigation unit, Zoabi asked to set another date for questioning instead of today, after she receives the information she requested. The Justice Ministry and Israel Police say that MK Zoabi will receive an answer to her inquiry, and that the ministry and the police do not conduct a dialogue with a suspect via the media.

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