Court Chides Police for Keeping Teen Detainees Cuffed Overnight

Police illegally kept two 15-year-old detainees handcuffed to a chair for hours, the Juvenile Court in Tel Aviv charged yesterday, sharply reprimanding the investigators involved.

Police told the court it tried to arrest two intoxicated teenagers in Ramat Gan on Wednesday night. Two of their friends tried to prevent the arrest and attacked the policemen, and got arrested as well. Police said all four were drunk, but the teenagers denied it, arguing that they were sober enough to write down the details of one of the policemen who they say attacked them, to file a complaint.

When brought to the police station, the two teenagers who tried to prevent their friends' arrest had their hands and feet cuffed to chairs in the interrogation room. A few hours later, they asked the policemen to open the handcuffs, but the interrogators only agreed to cuff their hands in the front instead of behind their backs. The teenagers' feet remained tied to the chair.

Galit Mor Vigodzki, who heads the Juvenile Court, slammed the practice.

"Handcuffing a minor should be carried out only when necessary, for the shortest possible time needed," she said. "In this case, it appears from the minors' claims they were handcuffed for many hours, but their files do not contain any reference to handcuffing them at all after bringing them to the police station."

The judge also noted the law prohibits interrogation of minors to begin later than 10 P.M., except in extraordinary circumstances and under a detailed order from a police officer. No such decision was recorded in the teenagers' file and their official interrogation didn't begin until morning. She ruled that by law the teenagers should have been transferred to a detention facility for the night.

"The minors didn't get to sleep that night at all, and claim they were kept handcuffed throughout ... one of them also claimed that when he asked to visit the bathroom, he was denied, and was only taken to the lavatory in the morning," the judge wrote.

Liron Sharkovik of the public defender's office said the teenagers were also beaten by police. She asked the judge to look at the handcuff marks, and the judge noted in her verdict she saw abrasions.

Police said the teenagers were sitting on the road drunk, and attacked and threatened policemen who asked them to get up.