A Tel Aviv juvenile court judge ordered the police to free a minor last week after they held him at the police station for 14 hours with his arms and legs cuffed, instead of sending him to a nearby lock-up.
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The minor was arrested in a Tel Aviv-area park with a smoke grenade and knife in his possession. The patrolmen decided to hold him at the police station for questioning until the next morning, when he was brought to Tel Aviv’s juvenile court for a bail hearing.
During the hearing, public defender Tamar Limon alleged that the police had broken the law by not sending her client to the Abu Kabir lock-up. Judge Noam Shilo then questioned the minor, who reiterated the facts Limon had presented.
At that point, Shilo halted the hearing and demanded that the police representative find out if the minor’s story was true and, if so, why he wasn’t sent to Abu Kabir, as mandated by law.
After checking, the police attorney confirmed the minor’s story, adding he was held at the police station because Abu Kabir had no room for him. She then asked that he be held in detention for another three days, on the grounds that he was a danger to the public.
But Shilo ordered him released without bail and with no restrictive conditions, “in light of the gross violation of the minor’s rights.”
“I order the Prison Service to remove the cuffs from the minor right now and release him immediately; he’s siting with his lawyer in the public defender’s room,” he added.
The judge stressed that the law leaves police no discretion on this issue: they must transfer a minor to a lock-up, even if they think that leaving him at the police station would be better for him.
“The police failed here on several issues – first and foremost in protecting the minor’s rights as a person,” Limon said. “The minor spent 14 hours with his hands and legs cuffed, including throughout the night, detained in a room with a chair but no bed. These are unacceptable detention conditions in a country governed by law.”
A police spokesperson said the boy was arrested on suspicion of weapons possession, and was still under investigation despite having been released at the court’s order.
“To the degree that judicial criticism was voiced, it will be studied and, if necessary, the appropriate conclusions will be drawn,” the spokesperson added.