Setting Precedent, Judge Places Greater Onus on Cops in Drug Busts

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Bags of cannabis confiscated by police.Credit: Israel Police

In a precedent-setting ruling, the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court ordered the police to conduct preliminary tests of suspected drugs before asking to extend the detention of suspects in a drug possession cases.

Judge Amir Dadon ruled last week that in cases where a disagreement exists as to whether the substance seized is a dangerous drug, the police must use kits for the rapid and preliminary identification of such drugs as a basis for holding suspects.

Drug possession is one of the most common offenses in which the police ask to extend the suspect’s detention. In this specific case, the suspect was arrested with 35 grams of hashish and another substance, which was suspected to be a small amount of cocaine. The suspect denied it was cocaine and said it was just a harmless powder.

The police came to the court hearing on extending his pretrial detention without any lab results stating it was a dangerous drug – and asked to remand the suspect until the results arrived. The police said they used to conduct preliminary tests, but they were problematic and are no longer used, and instead they wait for the official lab report. This is to prevent obstruction of justice or destruction of evidence, and the suspect may be a danger to the public too, the police noted.

The ruling will not help this suspect as he was ordered detained before the judge reached his decision, but Dadon has now ruled in principle on an issue that could affect most courts. in Israel cross the country. He ordered the police to begin using the kits within three months, and would apply to suspicions of heroin, morphine, amphetamines and cocaine, similar to the method used in Britain. It will not apply to marijuana possession.

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