Infamous Chief Pathologist to Once Again Evade Punishment
After a five-year investigation into unauthorized removal of body parts, the justice system has reached a settlement with Professor Yehuda Hiss.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 9/26/2005, 7:25 PM / Last Update: 9/26/2005, 7:11 PM
According to the arrangement, the prosecution will request that Prof. Hiss receive only a reprimand for his involvement in the unauthorized removal of parts from 125 bodies. In exchange, Hiss will admit to the acts. The plea bargain is subject to the approval of the court.
In all of the 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones and tissue without the permission of, and in many cases, against the expressed wishes of the families of the deceased.
According to evidence submitted in the past, Abu Kabir had a “museum of skulls” set up by Dr. Hiss that included the skulls of IDF soldiers that had been shot in the head. He has also been investigated for selling organs and falsifying testimony.
Hiss was fired from his position as Director of the institute shortly after the courts became involved in allegations against him, but has remained the Chief Pathologist at the Institute.
This is not the first time that Hiss has escaped legal consequences for his actions. Former Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein aroused objections from several directions when he ruled that Hiss should not be charged with criminal behavior, even though he provided "expert testimony" about autopsies at which he had not been present and used tissues and organs after autopsies without permission from the families of the deceased.
In July 2002, while Hiss was under police investigation for suspicions including the removal of organs from 81 deceased persons without familial consent, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Movement for Quality in Government (MQG) demanding his suspension.
State Pathologist Hiss generally decides Israel's pathological-legal questions, and many people have been sent to prison based on his findings. His professional standards have often been publicly maligned. In August 1999, Jerusalem District Court Judge Ruth Orr sharply criticized him for testifying that a 12-year-old Arab rock-thrower died as a result of a beating by Beitar security chief Nachum Korman three years earlier. She wrote that Hiss "was carried away by his desire to find the exact cause of the death... and ignored important pathological findings that did not correspond with this desire."
Dr. Hiss’ name has turned up repeatedly in relation to controversial events in Israel’s history, including the investigations into the Israeli government’s involvement in taking Yemenite children away from their parents in the 1950s, putting them up for adoption and the telling the parents that the children had died.
In Oct. 1997, Margalit Omeisi filed a police complaint against Hiss, charging him with "violating the medical secrecy to which he obligated himself." Prof. Hiss had released, without authorization, the results of a DNA test he carried out, purporting to show that Omeisi was not related to a woman from California whom Omeisi said was her missing "Yemenite child" daughter. Both Omeisi and her apparent daughter said they did not accept the results of the Hiss test, and that the method he used was not authoritative. Tests carried out elsewhere did in fact prove the two to be mother and child.
Hiss has also been the subject of controversy regarding the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. The police were asked to investigate charges that Hiss altered Rabin's wounds and submitted false evidence to the Shamgar Commission that investigated the killing. In March 1999, a group of Israeli academics presented findings showing that Hiss' pathology report contradicted other authoritative findings. Prof. Hiss had stated that Rabin suffered no damage to his spinal cord, nor was he wounded by a frontal gunshot wound to the chest. But Dr. Mordechai Gutman's surgical report, as well as taped testimony by Ichilov Hospital Director Dr. Gabi Barabash and former Health Minister Ephraim Sneh, indicate that Rabin's backbone was shattered and that there was a frontal chest wound.
The MQG had requested that former Rubenstein reconsider his decision not to indict Chief Pathologist Prof. Yehuda Hiss. Rubenstein had stated that even if the Institute did not act properly, "there is no suspicion of corruption or profiteering on the part of Prof. Hiss, whose only interest was the advancement of medical research."