Israel High Court Denies Bid to Probe Alleged Torture by Shin Bet

Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin

The High Court of Justice has denied two petitions to instruct Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to launch a criminal investigation into every complaint about the Shin Bet over torture or abuse of suspects during interrogation.

In its ruling this week, the court authorized a preliminary examination procedure into complaints against the Shin Bet, to be carried out by a state official in charge of complaints by Shin Bet interrogation subjects.

The petitions were submitted last year by human rights groups including the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The NGOs had slammed the way the state prosecutor's official in charge of handling such complaints had determined whether to open criminal investigations of Shin Bet interrogators.

A group of Shin Bet interrogation subjects dissatisfied with the way their complaints had been handled were among the petitioners.

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein ruled "the Shin Bet of course is neither above the law nor immune to criticism. But it is clear there is a place for relevant screening, out of consideration for the Shin Bet's work and without feigning innocence, also for fear of false complaints for political and ideological reasons."

Rubinstein said the obligation to open an investigation is not automatic but conditional on the presence of evidence that justifies it.

He said the High Court had stipulated in the past that the preliminary examination held by the state prosecutor's official into similar complaints was not unreasonable.

The preliminary examination procedure is intended to amass evidence to justify opening a criminal investigation against Shin Bet interrogators and constitutes a balance among the various interests, Rubinstein ruled.

Attorney General Weinstein and Justice Minister Neeman. Credit: Amit Shavi