Court releases alleged accomplice in Duma terror attack to house arrest
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Dawabsha family: Ruling proves Israeli court is racist

Court releases alleged accomplice in Duma terror attack to house arrest

Move follows panel's decision to quash confessions tortured out of suspect, a minor at time of crime; judge grants 4-day stay, giving prosecution chance to appeal to Supreme Court

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

The Central District Court ordered Thursday that the alleged accomplice in the 2015 Duma terror attack that took the lives of a Palestinian couple and their infant son be released to house arrest.

The highly restricted release of the 19-year-old will require him to wear an electronic monitor and bar him from contacting non-family members.

Judge Ami Kobo granted the prosecution’s request for a stay in the detention of the suspect, whose name has been barred from publication as he was a minor at the time of the attack. The Central District Attorney’s  Office will have until Sunday to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, which it is expected to do.

The closed-door ruling came less than a month after the same court threw out several confessions made by the alleged accomplice tying him to the attack because they were extracted under extreme duress by interrogators of the Shin Bet security service.

Saad and Riham Dawabsha, with baby Ali (Channel 2 screenshot)

The court also quashed a number of other confessions given by the primary suspect, Amiram Ben-Uliel, who is charged with carrying out the 2015 firebombing that killed toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha and his parents, Riham and Saad Dawabsha. Another son, Ahmed Dawabsha, who was five years old at the time, underwent months of treatment for severe burns sustained in the attack.

However, Ben-Uliel’s remaining admissions of guilt that were not given under duress were apparently consequential enough that his attorney did not request a similar hearing requesting his release.

Prior to Thursday’s hearing, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called for the release of the 19-year-old, who has been behind bars for the past two and a half years.

“In light of what has been revealed to the public thus far, I hope that the hearing on his detention will be conducted mercifully and that the judges will allow the (suspect) to be released from prison while the trial is conducted,” she wrote in a statement.

“As a general lesson from this unfinished affair, I suggest that all parties not rush to judge according to headlines in the media,” she concluded.

Ahmed Dawabsha, the sole survivor of a West Bank arson attack in Duma village, is carried by his grandfather Hussein at the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, Israel on Friday, July 22, 2016 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

In December 2015 — several months after the attack — it was Shaked who asserted that there had been no foul play in the Shin Bet’s interrogation of the suspects. The justice minister said at the time that she had been closely monitoring the case to ensure that it was conducted properly.

While the Central District Attorney’s Office insisted in a statement that Thursday’s ruling did not change the likelihood that it would be able to convict both suspects, the decision marked a clear gut punch for both the prosecution and the Shin Bet.

Nasr Dawabsha, who has served as one of the guardians to the attack’s orphaned survivor Ahmed, told The Times of Israel that Thursday’s ruling “marked a dark day” for his family.

“This proves that the Israeli legal system is racist and is primarily responsible for the crimes committed by settlers,” he said.

Jewish Home lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, who was present at the Lod courthouse for the decision, said the ruling “corrected a severe injustice.”

The far-right MK claimed the suspect had been held “in conditions worse than those enjoyed by Hamas terrorists, as a result of the egos of the District Attorney’s Office and the Shin Bet’s Jewish Division.”

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