IDF Bars Arab Teen's Lawyer From Abuse Testimony

Military Police refuses to allow a lawyer to attend as 15-year-old Palestinian gives account of alleged attack on him by Israeli soldiers.

The investigation unit of the Military Police is refusing to allow a lawyer to be present when a 15-year-old Palestinian gives his account of what he said was in an attack on him by Israeli soldiers. Due to the demand for a lawyer, the investigation unit has stopped pursuing the case.

The boy alleges the soldiers abused him physically, mentally and sexually.

The boy's lawyers, from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Defense for Children International, are demanding the investigation be resumed, and that a lawyer be present when the boy gives evidence. They base their demand on Israeli legislation on the rights of crime victims.

The Israel Defense Force Spokesman's Office told Haaretz: "In light of the fact that [the presence of a lawyer] is not customary among other investigating authorities, the military investigation unit declined this request."

The boy, who lives near Hebron, was arrested at home on May 26.

He told Haaretz that he was painfully restrained and hit on the way to a detention facility, where a jumper cable was tied to his penis and he was told electricity would be passed through the cable if he did not admit to throwing stones.

The 2001 law on crime victims' rights provides that victims of violence and sexual offenses have the right to give testimony in the presence of someone of their choosing.

The law does not cover the military investigation unit, but about two years ago, the military prosecutor gave assurances to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel that in practice the military prosecution operates in accordance with the principles of the crime victims law.

However, a military investigator reportedly told a lawyer for Defense for Children International the presence of a lawyer could influence what the boy says and would not be allowed.