Legalizing torture:
State claims torture of Duma interrogees is 'legal'

Prosecutor asks court to recognize 'exceptional measures' against detainees which were 'reasonable' in view of 'case irregularities.'

Contact Editor
Mordechai Sones,

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

At the Central District Court in Lod, the final hearing of the first part of the Duma trial will be held tomorrow, in which it will be decided whether the defendants' confessions in the case were legally gathered in view of the "special means" used in their interrogations.

The families of the defendants in the case say that prior to the hearing, the State, through the Central District Attorney's Office, filed a request to the court that torture be recognized as lawful. This is an irregular move, and apparently represents the first time this has been requested of an Israeli court.

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

The families said the petition states that while torture is invalid and its use in interrogations is prohibited by law in Israel, despite this, those running the investigaion nevertheless requested that in the Duma case the court rule that "these are not improper means or means that were 'illegally' applied. The State requested the court rule that torture was done in accordance with the law in light of the exceptional case," the families say.

"Everything is under a cloak of secrecy; everything is far from the public eye. Any citizen seeing this request wouldn't be able to sleep at night. They ask an Israeli court to recognize torture as lawful. This is hallucinatory, it is frightening, and above all it's clearly illegal," said the family of the minor who is accused of involvement in the case, but not of the murder itself.

The first part of the Duma trial began with a "mini-trial" - a small hearing in which the question of admissibility of the defendants' confessions is to be discussed, and is part of the larger case in which the question of the culprits' guilt is discussed.

In the framework of the "mini-trial" in which the confessions' admissibility was discussed, dozens of hearings have already been held in which many Shin Bet and police officers testified about the conduct of the investigations and the special means employed during them.

In the hearings, the Central District Attorney's Office is trying to convince the judges that despite the use of "exceptional measures" - torture during the young defendants' interrogations - their confessions were given of their 'free will' and are legally admissible.

Demonstrating Shin Bet torture techniques
Flash 90

One of the fathers revealed that contrary to Shin Bet and police statements claiming additional evidence strengthening the suspicions, during the trial itself the State Attorney's Office admitted that it has no evidence other than his son's confession.

The families said that "in order to show that the torture is not so terrible, the prosecution dared to write to the court that they tortured the detainees while 'respecting the rules', exercising good judgment, and the most outrageous thing is where they write that everything was done 'while preserving as much as possible the dignity of the defendants'. They preserved the defendants' dignity while they were torturing them? - That's what it says in a document written by the State of Israel in 2018. Unbelievable."

The families also mentioned the harsh conditions in which the defendants are being held. "They're in isolation, without telephones, and they are deprived of many rights given to all other prisoners. Even terrorists receive better conditions of imprisonment," they said.








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