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Charges dropped against 4 Arab Israelis accused of beating soldier in May

After video emerges proving they weren’t involved, attorney for defendants says confessions were forced out of his clients using torture

Screen capture from security camera video that led to charges being dropped against four Arab Israeli men accused of beating an off-duty IDF soldier. (Channel 12 News)
Screen capture from security camera video that led to charges being dropped against four Arab Israeli men accused of beating an off-duty IDF soldier. (Channel 12 News)

Tel Aviv prosecutors on Wednesday requested the withdrawal of indictments against four Arab Israeli men who were charged with beating an off-duty soldier in Jaffa in May, because security camera footage showed them arriving at the scene after the attack had already happened.

The request was filed at the Tel Aviv District Court after the defendants’ defense supplied the footage to prosecutors.

In the footage, the four men, who were not together as a group, can be seen walking up to the place where 19-year-old soldier Leon Shranin lay on the ground after being attacked by a mob.

Police had previously said that the four defendants confessed, during questioning by the Shin Bet security service, to participating in the assault, while their attorney claims the confessions were obtained under duress.

“My clients tell me that they suffered severe torture,” attorney Shadi Kabaha, representing the four suspects, told the Channel 12.

“The torture included attacks, humiliations, and being tied up,” he said.

Kabaha said that because of the methods used, the outcome of the Shin Bet interrogation is unreliable.

Indictments were filed in June against brothers Ra’av and Lawrence Mahamid, as well as Lotfi Vahash and Mohammed Ayiash. Two others were also indicted at the time.

Police said all of the defendants had admitted that they were at the scene of the attack and two of them confessed to taking part in the beating, though they later retracted the confessions.

Leon Shranin, 19, was seriously wounded by an Arab mob amid rioting in Jaffa. (Screenshot: Channel 13)

State Prosecutor Amit Aisman ordered the indictments against the Mahamid brothers and Vahash be withdrawn while the charges against Ayiash were altered, as he is also accused of incitement and supporting a terror group.

The charges against two other suspects, who were not named in media reports, remain in place.

Channel 12 reported a decision has yet to be made on probing how it was that the four suspects confessed to offenses they were not involved in.

Shranin was left in serious condition after being beaten on May 13, suffering a skull fracture and a cerebral hemorrhage, Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv said at the time. He was able to drive himself to the hospital after the attack but required lengthy rehabilitation for his injuries.

The attack on Shranin came during a period of unrest that saw the worst violence between the Jewish and Arab communities in decades. In May, amid intense fighting with Gaza and tensions in Jerusalem, Israel’s ethnically mixed Jewish and Arab communities erupted in mob violence, which police failed to contain.

In the weeks after the violence simmered down, police followed up with a major operation to apprehend suspects for involvement in the violence and that led to the arrest of over 1,550 people, the majority of them Arab Israelis. Over 150 indictments have been filed.

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