The Justice Ministry unit that investigates police conduct has refused to permit an Arab man beaten by border policemen in Tel Aviv two years ago to review that investigative file of the incident. A total of five border police were allegedly involved in the beating.
One of the policemen is facing disciplinary proceedings. He was not on duty at the time, but was filmed during the incident. while the investigation against the other policemen has been closed. The ministry says that permitting broader access to the file would compromise the proceedings.
The victim, Maysam Abu Alqian, a resident of the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev, was beaten outside of a Super Yuda convenience store on Ibn Gabirol Street where he worked. He recently appealed the decision to close the investigation against the four other policemen.
In their petition to the High Court of Justice, Abu Alqian’s lawyers, from the Public Committee Against Torture, alleged that they were allowed to transcribe the testimony given by the policemen under questioning by investigators but were barred from using their cellphones to photograph material from the file and were also required to commit not to show the material to their client. Abu Alqian alleges that the policemen beat him because he was speaking Arabic and that they called him a “stinking Arab.”
Directives from the State Prosecutor’s Office provide that photocopying of the contents of an investigative file should be permitted “in appropriate cases, based on the judgment of the agency" involved in the case. The law permits a review of investigative material only after charges are filed. It also provides for exceptions when access can still be barred, including cases involving major security concerns. In other cases, complainants are required to sign an acknowledgement stating that they are aware that their review of the material might damage the proceedings against an alleged perpetrator.
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The ministry's police investigations unit said in response that more extensive access to the investigative file could damageo the disciplinary proceedings in the case, adding that the unit is careful to respect the rights of the accused as well as the victims.