Israeli Military Prosecutor Seeks Gag Order on Verdict Implying Suspect Was Tortured

This comes after judge refused to strike from the ruling a mention of 'special methods' used during interrogation of Palestinian suspect

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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IDF soldiers conducting a raid following the murder of Rina Shnerb, 2019
IDF soldiers conducting a raid following the murder of Rina Shnerb, 2019Credit: IDF Spokesperson
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

A military prosecutor sought a gag order on Sunday on a section of a sentence implying that the defendant was tortured during his interrogation, after the military judge refused the prosecution’s request that this section be removed from the text.

Based on a plea bargain, Khaled Qu’ad was sentenced Sunday morning to two years in prison for failing to prevent the West Bank attack in which Rina Shnerb was murdered in August 2019. He was also convicted of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The judge, Maj. Merav Hershkowitz Yitzhaki, summarized in her sentence the background of the case, and wrote that about a month prior to the attack Qu’ad was with one of the convicted perpetrators, Qassam Barghouti, who said that he planned to commit a major attack. Qu’ad asked to be let out of the car they were in, saying “I don’t want to get involved in this.” The two have had no contact since.

She also noted that both sides — prosecution and defense — asked her to respect the plea bargain they reached, adding, “I was told that the deal stemmed from significant evidentiary problems, since, among other things, special methods were used during the interrogation of several people, including the person who incriminated the defendant, questioned in an ‘investigation of necessity.’”

“Special methods” usually means that torture was used in the interrogation. “Investigation of necessity” means the usual restrictions on interrogation tactics don’t apply because the investigator claims he needs information urgently, such as to prevent an attack.

The prosecutor, Capt. Moshe Meshorer, immediately submitted a request to amend the sentence by erasing this paragraph. Defense attorney Mahmoud Hassan objected and the judge rejected the request.

Hershkowitz Yitzhaki wrote in the ruling that the prosecution never claimed the interrogation tactics were classified. Moreover, she said, the sentence presents both sides’ positions, and “the parties didn’t disagree over the reasons” for the plea bargain.

Nevertheless, she added, she should have made clear that the statement about the “interrogation of necessity” came from the defense attorney only.

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