Shin Bet Officers Who Used Banned Interrogation Methods Evade Criminal Charges

Operatives used extreme psychological pressure in 2007 arrest of Hamas man charged with driving terror cell that gunned down Border Police officer.

Deputy Attorney General Yehoshua Lamberger has decided not to open a criminal investigation against two Shin Bet officers who allegedly used banned interrogation methods against a detainee.

Hamas member Mahmoud Saweti was arrested in 2007 and charged with being the driver for a Hamas terror cell that gunned down Border Police officer Yaniv Mashiah three years earlier. Saweti confessed to all charges and was sentenced to 22 years in jail, as part of a plea bargain.

Shin Bet

However, it later emerged that his interrogators, Shin Bet operatives known as "Miguel" and "Abu Nadi," used extreme psychological pressure to extract his confession. Among other methods, the two used Saweti's family members to pressure him, he claimed.

On one occasion, his wife and his father were summoned to a military base, ostensibly to bring Saweti some fresh clothes. The father was made to wear a prison uniform, and they were then ushered into a courtyard, where they were shown to Saweti, to make him think they had been arrested as well.

A few days later the father was called in again, photographed as a prisoner, and the picture was shown to his son. Saweti was not told this was a ploy until much later.

As a result of the pressure, Saweti tried committing suicide twice in prison, with a psychiatrist who examined him stating he was traumatized.

Saweti then appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that the Shin Bet stop using the family members in the interrogation.

Deputy Attorney General Raz Nezri stated in response that the practice was illegal, and that its use will be terminated.

"The Shin Bet and the Attorney General both agree it was not appropriate to do something to create the false impression Saweti's father has been detained," Nezri wrote at the time.

Saweti then lodged a complaint with the suspects' complaints ombudsman in the Shin Bet. Three months ago, Deputy Attorney General Yehoshua Lamberger said that although the interrogators acted inappropriately, no criminal investigation would take place.

Lamberger explained that considerable time had passed and regulations have since been clarified and reiterated. Saweti has appealed to the Supreme Court with the help of the Public Committee Against Torture to challenge Lamberger's move.

Saweti's attorney, Smadar Ben-Natan, said, "it's time the Shin Bet's shield of immunity is cracked. When acts like that are committed, people should stand trial and pay the price."

The Justice Ministry said in response that following the complaint and the appeal, the instructions on the matter had been clarified and reiterated. "Neither the complaint nor the petitions to the Supreme Court requested any other remedy but to make a statement on the interrogation method in the general sense, and to ban the use of this method in the future," the ministry said.