A teenage right-wing activist arrested with three other suspects for protesting outside the home of a high-ranking army commander in central Israel was released on Wednesday. The judge issuing the order said police broke several laws on handling juvenile suspects.
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The four protesters were arrested in Ramat Gan while demonstrating against Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Roni Numa over an order prohibiting the suspects from contacting each other.
In ordering the release of the juvenile, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori said police had broken the law several times while interrogating him.
The minor had refused to be released to house arrest, insisting he was innocent.
“What I have here is a serious picture that is hard to believe happened in Israel: An adult and a minor were both in an identical situation, in that they were prohibited from meeting with each other. They were both near the commander’s apartment, they were both arrested by the Ramat Gan police. The adult was released the next day with no restrictions, while the State of Israel is waging a mighty struggle against the minor.”
Of the four individuals arrested for protesting in front of Numa’s apartment, one was released by the police and two by the court.
The minor is 16 and has no criminal record. The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered the release of the adult, ruling that he was not suspected of criminal wrongdoing, although he has a criminal record and allegedly committed the same offense as the teen.
The judge noted in his ruling for the teen’s immediate release that the interrogation and detention had contravened the law against detaining minors for questioning him at night without approval of an authorized officer. The judge also noted that the suspect’s father was informed that his son was in custody at 9 P.M. and the police said they would be back in touch with him in 20 minutes, but they did not reestablish contact with the father for several hours.
The judge recommended to the youth’s attorney, David Halevy of the far-right-wing legal aid group Honenu, that he file a complaint with the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct.
“I regret the suffering caused a 16-year-old without a criminal record, arrested and held for no reason,” Halevy said. “The court’s decision speaks for itself. This is a very serious warning sign for the police and the prosecution,” he added. Honenu said it would sue the police for damages in the youth’s name.