Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri
Deputy Attorney General Raz NizriFlash 90

Deputy Attorney General Attorney Raz Nizri, who paid a visit to the suspects being held over the deadly Duma arson attack, has forcefully rejected claims by their attorneys of torture.

According to Nizri, the detainees were in good physical and emotional condition when he met with them, and he accused the defense team of greatly exaggerating the conditions of their detention and interrogation as "torture."

The issue of alleged torture in the case has become a point of major controversy, with defense attorneys claiming their clients were subjected to shocking physical abuse - to the point that one minor currently still in detention reportedly attempted suicide - which could invalidate any confessions extracted from them.

The Shin Bet and other officials deny the accusations, saying that while the suspects were being subjected to intensive interrogation techniques - as are often used on terror suspects - they are not being tortured.

In a letter to Defense Attorney Adi Kedar of the Honenu legal rights group, Nizri responded to Kedar's criticism of his visit to the Shin Bet complex where the suspects are being held. Kedar had accused Nizri of obstructing the investigation via his visit, but the Deputy Attorney General accused Kedar in response of feigning ignorance.

"Your claim contains strong statement, which I will assume stem from a lack of familiarity with the facts and the legal-normative framework pertaining to the matter (of the interrogation and investigation - ed.), so I will therefore present them in brief," Nizri's letter began.

Under the law, the Deputy Attorney General is considered a legitimate, official visitor by dint of his position, Nizri noted.

"My department is responsible for dealing with this subject, and a lawyer from my department is the one who coordinates all matters regarding visits to prisons and the Israeli Prosecution Service detention facilities."

Relating to the torture claims, he said an investigation would be launched by the Attorney General's office "as is proper."

In fact, he added, the very purpose of his visit was to investigate the conditions under which the suspects were being held "and to hear the complaints, if any, straight from their mouths, in accordance with the authority of an official visitor as explained."

"At the start of the visit and at the end we spoke - as is standard for an official visitor - with Shin Bet personnel, but the conversations with the detainees themselves were held in private, without any prison wardens or Shin Bet interrogators in the holding cell," he added.

Detainees were given a chance to make any formal complaints, or if they so chose to not meet with Nizri and his team at all. He said he had made it clear to the suspects that the conversations were not related to the Duma investigation but purely concerning the conditions of their detention.

"I can already note that our impression was that the physical and emotional state of the suspects were fine, and that there is a huge gap between the claims we heard straight from their mouths and what has been claimed publicly on their behalf," he said.

Attorney Kedar responded to Nizri's claims, saying, "the letter of the deputy attorney general was leaked (to the press) even before being placed on our table."

"In his words, Mr. Nizri continues the invalid usage of messages he was instructed to say in order to cover the violence that he gave permission to be used."

"The goal of the 'official visitors' is for other reasons, and Mr. Nizri's appearance in a way that was not coordinated with the suspects was done as part of a continued effort to 'justify' the use of violence, something which is invalid according to every legal system and treaty," concluded Kedar.