‘Palestinian Coroner Agreed With Israeli Finding That Bus Driver Committed Suicide,’ Says Medical Examiner

The Palestinian rep concurred throughout autopsy that there was no indication of foul play in death of Palestinian driver who was found hanged, says Dr. Chen Kogel.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Palestinian mourners attending the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem.
Palestinian mourners attending the funeral of bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, near Jerusalem. Credit: Reuters
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The Palestinian coroner, who was present during the autopsy of the Palestinian bus driver who was found dead on Sunday in Jerusalem, agreed that the cause of death was suicide, insists the Israeli director of the institute that performed the autopsy.

The death of the driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, who was found hanged inside his bus in Jerusalem, has been treated in the Palestinian media and street as a murder perpetrated by Jews.

Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine director Dr. Chen Kogel notes that Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Al-Aloul, appointed by the family of the driver, was present throughout the autopsy and concurred with the conclusion that the cause of death was suicide.

“Al-Aloul was present at the autopsy and he was asked his opinion and he agreed with the analysis of the findings,” says Kogel. “I can’t understand what happened since. I’m stunned that such a different version of things was reported,” says Kogel.

The preliminary autopsy report points to suicide by hanging, and finds no indication of any foul play. Fluids from the deceased’s body have also been sent to the Health Ministry toxicology lab at Tel Hashomer Hospital to rule out any possibility of poisoning or drugging, with the test results expected within two weeks.

Dr. Chen Kogel, director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. Credit: Roni Linder

Kogel says that throughout the autopsy Dr. Al-Aloul expressed his full agreement with the findings.

“From a medical standpoint, this sort of case is very easy to analyze and we see dozens such cases each year,” Kogel told Haaretz. “What makes this case different isn’t a medical issue but the fact that someone made a baseless claim about it that could seriously inflame things.”

The controversy over Ramouni’s death began with a report from the Palestinian news agency Ma’an saying that the Palestinian coroner had reached the opposite conclusion and that Al-Aloul, who attended the autopsy on the family’s behalf, believed the cause of death to be homicide and not suicide. The report did not quote Al-Aloul directly, but ascribed this claim to him. The Palestinian pathologist has neither confirmed nor denied the report since its publication.

“Medically speaking, this is a clear-cut case. We did not find anything at all to indicate any foul play and all the findings are compatible with suicide,” says Kogel. “It’s very hard to hang a conscious person against his will and without leaving any signs aside from the pressure signs on the neck caused by the hanging. The only possibility that the hanging was done against his will is that the deceased was first drugged. Therefore, we will not issue a final report until we receive the test results from the lab. At this point it appears that he was conscious and that this was a suicide.”

The Israel Police say that Al-Aloul was clearly informed that during the autopsy he was permitted to ask any question, or request any test or photos, but no such request was made. “During the autopsy there was agreement concerning the various findings and their meaning, and nothing was found to cause suspicion that the death was caused by someone else,” say the police. “Contrary to some reports, particularly in the foreign media, the report we were given contains no findings to indicate that foul play was involved. The body has been released to the family for burial.”

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