Activists Call for Police Abuse Case to Be Reopened

Two policemen are suspected of beating, sexually assaulting and otherwise humiliating a Palestinian routinely arrested outside of Jerusalem.

A petition over the closure of an investigation against two policemen suspected of beating and sexually assaulting a security detainee at an Israel Police station in the West Bank is set to be submitted to the High Court of Justice in the coming days.

The petition is being filed by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel regarding allegations against the officers over an incident alleged to have taken place four years ago in the police station in Ma'aleh Adumim.

The case involved the routine arrest of a Palestinian resident of Al-Azariya, just outside Jerusalem, in which two policemen, one of whom has been publicly identified as Y., are suspected of abusing a  27-year-old detainee, M. , by beating, sexually assaulting and otherwise humiliating him.

The Justice Ministry unit that investigates wrongdoing by police officers examined the case but closed it after two years for lack of evidence.

The unit cited the fact that no one else at the police station reported hearing anything out of the ordinary from the interrogation room while M. was being questioned, and noted that he  changed his version of events a number of times and was said to have told relatives that he had made up a portion of his account.

But the Public Committee Against Torture contends that additional evidence exists that supports the allegations or that would at least necessitate further investigation - including polygraph results and a police audio recording of the victim. The organization also says that the appeals department of the prosecutor's office failed to respond at all to an appeal that was filed on the handling of Warani's case almost a year after a response was due.

M. was taken into custody along with a cousin one night in November 2007 as part of a joint security operation by police and the Israel Defense Forces. According to a complaint filed two weeks later, he was subjected to abuse almost immediately after being taken to the Ma'aleh Adumim station. He claims he was punched all over his body, kicked, whipped with a coil and struck with a club. Y. was put on forced leave of absence from the police after the incident.

M. also alleges that pressure was applied to his eyes, his ears were tied together until he bled and a firearm was discharged near his ears. He was then sodomized with the use of a metal pole, he claims, and screamed in pain until the abuse stopped when a third person entered the room. He claims that Y. then led him to a restroom and urinated on his face and clothing. Y. initially denied this allegation, but after he himself was detained, Y. admitted that his urine had come in contact with the detainee, by mistake, he said.

Findings from a medical examination of the detainee conducted some time later allegedly support the contention that he was subjected to violence. The Public Committee Against Torture argues that in the police recording made of M. following the incident, he also admitted to having engaged in criminal conduct. The organization cites this as evidence that his candor in that regard reinforces M's credibility when it comes to his allegations of abuse as well.

Y. has been the subject of two prior complaints over improper use of force that were filed with the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police officers. Both prior cases were closed, but he was found guilty on eight occasions of violations of disciplinary regulations.