Despite High Court Prohibition |

Shin Bet Documents Show Illegal Interrogation Methods Used Against Palestinian Prisoner

A prisoner who suffered serious injury 18 months ago, which he alleges was caused by torture, files a High Court petition asking that the military prosecution open a case against investigators in the Shin Bet security service.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

A Palestinian prisoner who suffered serious physical and psychological injury following alleged Shin Bet torture 18 months ago has filed a High Court petition asking that the military prosecution be instructed to intervene in the case.

On March 24, the prisoner asked that the Justice Ministry’s department for investigation of police officers open a case against the investigators in the Shin Bet security service who interrogated him.

The petition comes more than 16 months after the prisoner filed his original complaint of torture; since then the Justice Ministry has not completed its preliminary probe or responded to the prisoner’s request to investigate the officials the petition deems responsible.

The petition, filed on the prisoner’s behalf by the Public Committee Against Torture and by Physicians for Human Rights, states that the prisoner fears his complaint will end up like more than 700 other complaints of torture during interrogation since 2001 − closed after extended foot-dragging.

The petitioner, who is accused of murder and attempted murder ‏(due to his membership in a Hamas cell accused of murder) denies the charges. At no point was he deemed to be a “ticking bomb” − a designation that has justified torture in the past. His identity has been kept confidential due to the severe psychological injury he suffered.

‘Special methods’

Attorneys Bana Shugari-Badarna and Adi Lustigman, who wrote the petition, note that the Shin Bet admitted that it has used the methods of torture the petition describes, methods that the High Court of Justice has already prohibited, the petition says.

Attorney Labib Habib, who is representing the man in criminal proceedings, was permitted to see a detailed Shin Bet memorandum describing the methods of torture used.

In response to Labib’s question, the State Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that between August 25 at 1:08 P.M. and August 27 at 9:50 A.M., “special methods” were used, among which the prosecutor’s office described “a number of full kneelings,” “a number of lifting the hands to the back” ‏(standing for long periods with hands raised‏) and “a number of standings” ‏(having the man repeatedly get up and sit down.

The prisoner also reported to his lawyer that he had undergone painful handcuffing for hours, sleep deprivation, shaking, loud noises, poor nutrition, insults including sexual ones, and threats against his family.

A memorandum from the Shin Bet, which Labib was permitted to see, confirms that his client was questioned for at least five days for 18 hours straight, with breaks of about two hours between sessions. The petition notes that the Israel Prison Service, the Shin Bet and the physicians of these two agencies knew that the man was suffering from various ailments, including an eye problem for which he had undergone surgery three months earlier, kidney pain and a hernia.

Released for interrogation

Immediately after his arrest in August 2011 he was taken to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital for tests and released an hour later for interrogation at the Russian Compound police headquarters in Jerusalem.

He has since lost the sight in his right eye and his other problems have worsened, the petition says.

In September 2011 Physicians for Human Rights attempted in vain to find out from prison service doctors whether the man was getting proper medical attention and, if torture had been used, whether the doctors had reported it.

In response to a claim by Physicians for Human Rights, presented in the petition, that physicians had been neglectful of the prisoner’s condition, the prison service spokeswoman told Haaretz on Wednesday: “The Israel Prison Service medical team is responsible for the life and health of some 18,000 prisoners and does its work faithfully, expertly and sensitively."

The state prosecution has not yet submitted its response to the High Court. Spokesmen for the Shin Bet, the Justice Ministry and the Israel Prison Service, who are also named as respondents in the petition, said they received the petition only this week.

An Israeli actor is seen demonstrating the 'banana' method, one of several torture techniques outlawed by the Supreme Court. Credit: AP

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