Israeli Police Seek to Keep Man on Life Support in Custody

Officers failed to inform family, Public Defender's Office of stabbing suspect's hearing

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Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, June 26, 2016.
Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, 2014.Credit: Hagai Frid

The Israeli police sought to extend the detention of a man who was in the hospital on life support and submitted a false response to the court on his behalf.

They also failed to inform either his family or the Public Defender’s Office of the hearing, as required by law.

A police officer told the Haifa Magistrate’s Court that the false response was included in the denial-of-bail application due to a “scribal error.”

The man, a resident of the north, was stabbed during a brawl, but police suspect he also stabbed someone else during the fight. Police submitted their custody request Saturday, while the man was hospitalized in serious condition at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

On the request form, police wrote that the suspect had been told he was under arrest and had responded.

But during the detention hearing, a police officer admitted that when the form was filled out, “the suspect was sedated and on a respirator.” The statement on the form about the suspect’s response “was apparently a scribal error,” he added.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Ayelet Hashahar Bitton Perla rejected the police’s request to hold the suspect in custody. She also criticized the police over the “scribal error,” noting that the form made it seem as if the suspect “had waived some of his rights,” when “in fact, the initial arrest was carried out between the petitioner [that is, the police] and itself,” without the suspect ever being involved.

In a written statement, the police said, “Contrary to what is claimed, nothing was writing by the policemen in the place for the suspect’s response on the arrest form. Rather, in light of his medical condition, the phrase ‘The suspect didn’t say anything’ was marked. Initially, the hospitalized suspect’s identity wasn’t known to the hospital, and therefore neither to the police, so the claims about not informing his family or the Public Defender’s Office are irrelevant.”

But contrary to the spokesperson’s claim, the arrest form did list the suspect’s name.