A complaint was lodged last week against a Shin Bet investigator for allegedly sexually harassing a young man during an interrogation.
The unit in Israel’s justice ministry that deals with suspects’ complaints against the security service has launched an independent investigation into the allegations, which the Shin Bet vigorously denies.
According to the minutes of a hearing at the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court to determine whether to extend the suspect’s detention, the plantiff alleges that an interrogator clung to his leg and said: “Do you want me to take down your pants so you can open your eyes and see how nice it is?”
The young man, who is Jewish and was arrested for offenses linked to radical nationalist causes, is currently under house arrest. He told Haaretz that he was alone with the investigator when the alleged incident occurred. After he filed his complaint, he was asked whether he would undergo a polygraph test and he said he would. According to the minutes of the hearing, the young man said his interrogators pushed up against his face, cursed him and spit on him. He said he was permitted to sleep only four hours a night, and that when he was questioned on the Sabbath, music was played in the background.
In such cases, the unit in the Justice Ministry that investigates suspects’ complaints against the Shin Bet conducts a preliminary probe, after which the findings are conveyed to the official in the state prosecutor’s office who oversees the unit and decides whether to open a criminal investigation, launch a disciplinary hearing, take other measures or close the case.
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In some instances, an investigation can be launched without a complaint.
“Detainees receive all of the rights the law allows,” the Shin Bet said in response to the allegations. “The complaints made by interested parties that rights were withheld contrary to the law is entirely baseless and its purpose is to create a false impression in the media and delegitimize the work of the Shin Bet. Shin Bet investigations are conducted according to law, and court verdicts and are closely supervised by the state prosecutor’s office and the courts at every level including the Supreme Court. This is also the case in this instance. The Shin Bet will continue to act to thwart terror, for the security of the state,” it added.
Amir Bracha, who represented the complainant for the right-wing legal assistance NGO Honenu, said the Shin Bet had not “learned its lesson.”
“When I spoke with my client after he was denied the right to meet an attorney, I was shocked to hear that during questioning harsh measures were taken including serious criminal acts,” Bracha said. “It seems that the Shin Bet has not learned its lesson from previous affairs and continues to trample basic rights while committing criminal actions,” he added
“We hope the relevant officials will consider, perhaps for the first time, trial or disciplinary action against interrogators who disregard the human rights of people during questioning, not to mention of young detainees,” fellow Honenu lawyer Adi Kedar said.