Four former Border Policemen, accused of abusing a petrified Palestinian man who appeared to be mentally challenged, were in court on Thursday to hear the legal arguments over whether or not their actions constituted abuse, Channel 2 reported.
Assaf Koneh, Mevorah Benyamin, Boziya Porhan, and Dor Yackobi face charges over an incident that happened four years ago when they stopped a young Palestinian man at the Al-Jib checkpoint north of Jerusalem.
At the heart of the case is a video clip, filmed by one of the men using a mobile phone, that shows how they mistreated the victim in the back of a jeep after the man failed to produce his identity card or remember its number. The distressed and confused man is seen weeping with fear as the Border Policemen shout at him, pour water over him and threaten to order a dog — which they put in the vehicle with him — to bite him.
The Palestinian man was eventually released from the jeep and sent home. However, the video clip began to circulate on the Internet and the four men were arrested and questioned by the Police Investigations Unit. Although the investigations unit was unable to track down the Palestinian man in the video, the four men, who have since completed their service, were eventually charged in June 2011 with abusing and threatening a helpless person.
The accused men’s defense lawyers argue that while their actions were inappropriate and possibly even illegal, they did not constitute abuse.
“I don’t see any acts of degradation or humiliation,” said Moshe Oren, the defense lawyer for one of the men. “It is true that something happened and things were done that shouldn’t have been, but it is not abuse.”