Policeman to be tried for urinating on Palestinian

High Court overturns decision to close case of officer said to have relieved himself on blindfolded, handcuffed detainee

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

The police station in Maale Adumim (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The police station in Maale Adumim (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The High Court ruled on Tuesday that a policeman must stand trial over allegations that he urinated on a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainee to humiliate him, overturning the attorney general’s decision to close the case.

High Court justices Salim Joubran, Noam Sohlberg and Isaac Amit concluded that the Police Internal Investigations Department and both the state prosecutor and his deputy had “thoroughly investigated, several times” the Palestinian petitioner’s claims about alleged physical and sexual assault by two police officers at a police station in the West Bank city of Ma’ale Adumim 10 years ago.

The law enforcement agencies had worked “industriously” to get to the truth, they said.

But they rejected Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to close the case regarding one episode involving one of the two policemen.

The court said that the evidence was based on conversations between prisoners that were recorded without their knowledge.

“The smell of the urine is revolting… it killed us… good that they didn’t force me to drink it… they pee into a bag and put it on your head,” the victim said to a cellmate.

A view of the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem (Flash90)
A view of the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem (Flash90)

The policeman in question denied the allegation throughout his interrogation, but after he was arrested and told that his DNA had been found on the petitioner’s clothes, he admitted that the incident had taken place, though he insisted it was an accident.

He claimed that he had taken the handcuffed and blindfolded detainee to the bathroom, and after the detainee had finished, had asked him to stand to the side so that he too could use the toilet.

The policeman claimed he had asked the prisoner to kneel so that he would be in an advantageous position should something happen, and when the detainee unexpectedly moved, he turned and caught hold of him. It was probably while moving that drops of urine dripped onto the prisoner’s clothes, he said.

When asked by investigators why he had denied that the incident had taken place, he said he had felt ashamed about his “blunder.”

The justices ruled that the officer‘s response could be seen either as an admission or a lie and that it was right to let a court decide.

But they backed earlier decisions made about other claims by the Palestinian, including the opinion that the second police officer should be absolved.

The High Court petition was submitted by the Palestinian prisoner and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel against the attorney general, the police investigations department and the two unidentified police officers.

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