Policemen Indicted for Death by Negligence of Illegal Resident

Two Rehovot police officers were indicted yesterday in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court for causing death by negligence of a Palestinian illegal resident in Israel. The charges, brought by the Police Investigations Department in the Justice Ministry, state that the two policemen, Baruch Peretz, 36, and Assaf Yakutieli, 34, did not seek medical attention for a Palestinian whom they were transporting. The Palestinian had been released from the hospital, where he was recovering from injuries incurred in an accident with a stolen car he was driving.

The charge states that the two police officers left the man by a highway in a secluded location in the West Bank, and he then died of dehydration.

According to the indictment, the Palestinian, Omar Abu-Garban, was involved in an accident on May 29, 2008, while driving a stolen car on Route 6 south of the Sorek interchange. The Rehovot police took him to Sheba Hospital, Tel Hashomer, where he remained until June 12, when the hospital told the police he could be released.

The release form states that Abu-Garban was sometimes confused, unsteady on his feet and needed help eating and drinking, and further care.

The Rehovot police decided that only the Prisons Service could provide the necessary care. However, after they were unable to find a place for him in a prison with the proper facilities, the station commander's recommendation to the district commander to release Abu-Garban in the West Bank was accepted.

Peretz and Yakutieli took Abu-Garban in their patrol car to the Makabim roadblock in the northern West Bank. They told their station commander that they were unable to get him to tell them where he lived, and the station commander told them to deliver Abu-Garban to the army or the Border Police. However these authorities refused to take charge of the Palestinian.

Yakutieli then proposed leaving Abu-Garban in a well-lit location by which many Palestinians drive on their way to Ramallah, and Peretz agreed.

However, at 2 A.M. on June 13 they let him out on Route 45 about two kilometers from the Atarot roadblock, in an isolated location, without food or drink. Abu-Garban's body was found two days later.

The Police Investigations Department charged that the Peretz and Yakutieli had acted negligently by not ensuring Abu-Garban was situated somewhere he could be helped, and that they did not receive permission from their station commander to leave him where they did.