Adalah: Police Failed to Seek Indictments in Oct. 2000 Riots

Rights group says police failed to investigate Israeli Arab deaths, ignored commission findings.

The Justice Ministry's Police Investigation Department (PID) has ignored the Or Commission's recommendations by failing to investigate the deaths of five of the 13 Arabs killed in the October 2000 riots, Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, charged on Thursday.

Adalah said that even in the cases the PID did investigate, it did not do enough to find the guilty parties.

Sources familiar with the investigation told Haaretz on Thursday that the PID reexamined every case in search of further evidence sufficient to indict the guilty parties. "In some cases, we didn't have any leads at all," said one. "Wherever we could probe further, we did, but we couldn't find enough proof to press charges."

In certain cases, the PID took testimony from additional witnesses and checked firearms, though in no case did the department conclude that there was sufficient evidence to indict.

But Adalah, which examined all the PID's investigative material, said that in some cases, the department refrained from widening the investigation, and in so doing, it violated the law.

About a year ago, PID decided to close all the cases pending against policemen suspected in the killing of 12 Israeli Arabs and one Gazan during the October 2000 riots. This decision came after the state commission of inquiry headed by then Justice Theodore Or probed the events and in some cases pointed to possible guilty parties.

The PID's decision to close the cases infuriated the Arab public. Adalah said that it was unthinkable that no indictments were filed, even in cases in which the Or Commission had pointed out suspects.

"We believe the attorney general must order a legal probe against the PID, if he cares about the rule of law," said Adalah director general Hassan Jabareen. "Otherwise, he would be conveying the message that killing Arabs doesn't require any investigation."

After the PID announced the closure of the cases, the Justice Ministry decided to reexamine the decision as though an appeal had been submitted against it. A team of attorneys headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is currently wrapping up this reexamination.

"We have recently learned that the families intend to present a formal appeal against the PID's conclusions, and we have decided to examine this as well," the Justice Ministry said on Thursday.

Adalah, the Committee of Bereaved Families (of those killed in the riots) and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee will hold a news conference in Jerusalem on Sunday to release their conclusions about the investigation.

In a 130-page report dubbed "The Defendants," they expose new details of the investigations, including the names of people whom Adalah believes should be indicted for the October 2000 killings.

PID sources said that it is impossible to repeat probes of events that took place six year ago. However, they insisted, today, the department takes firm action every time civilians are killed by security forces.