Family of Bedouin Killed During Arrest Still Awaits Justice, Five Years Later

'I don’t find, in this country, a true will to bring the truth to light,' says brother of deceased, who accuses police of whitewashing the case.

The family of a Bedouin man who was fatally beaten during a police arrest five years ago is still waiting for an official apology.

“The police are whitewashing the case,” Dr. Mansour al-Jarjawi, the victim’s brother, said on Wednesday. “They are taking us lightly and continue to show disrespect. They are a gang of criminals and thugs.”

The incident occurred in early 2008, in the parking lot of an Ashkelon beach, when two detectives approached a car with two people inside because they suspected that the two possessed drugs. The detectives said that after they identified themselves, one of the passengers attacked one cop, and the second one then attacked the other cop.

The confrontation ended with two people injured. One of the detectives was lightly injured in the face and jaw. But Sabri al-Jarjawi, one of the suspects, was beaten unconscious. He was sent to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he remained unconscious and on life support. Three months later, doctors declared him dead. The family claims he was kept in handcuffs and leg shackles.

Yesterday, the family said that despite a compensation agreement under which the police paid Jarjawi’s wife and daughter, they are still waiting for an official apology.

“We went out to have a good time with a friend,” Mansour Jarjawi said. “The police claimed the cops searched him because they suspected the two were in possession of drugs. My brother Sabri sat next to the wheel and opened the car door. The policeman pulled him out and started beating him on the head and all over his upper body with a baton, while my brother protected himself until he lost consciousness. They left him without medical treatment for 20 minutes until they realized he was dying and ordered an ambulance.”

A police spokesman said at the time that “while carrying out the arrest of the two suspects for drug possession, one of the detectives was severly punched in the face by Sabri al-Jarjawi. As a result of this attack, the policeman was brought to a hospital and admitted. The violent behavior of the suspect while resisting arrest led to legal use of force against him to stop the crime he was committing by attacking the policeman who was arresting him.”

The Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct closed the case against the cops, saying there was no evidence that they perpetrated the violence described by family members, and that based on an autopsy, Jarjawi’s death was not the result of police violence. But Mansour Jarjawi said he hired a private pathologist from Denmark who determined conclusively that his brother died from blows to the head.

Jarjawi said he has since lost faith in the police. “They treated us with contempt the entire way,” he said. “Their tendency was lies and whitewashing. I am very disappointed that no steps were taken against the two cops and they are still serving in the police.” He added that the family wants his brother’s killer to face trial.

Jarjawi said he spent over NIS 100,000 in legal fees to determine the cause of his brother’s death. “I don’t find, in this country, a true will to bring the truth to light,” he said. “They’re just a bunch of bullies.”

A police spokesman noted that the Justice Ministry closed the case for lack of evidence, and that the family’s appeal of this decision was rejected. Nevertheless, due to the severity of the incident, the policeman was reprimanded and transferred from his job.