An Israeli policeman who admitted urinating on a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner must stand trial, Israel’s High Court has ruled.
The case, which initially included allegations of physical and sexual assault by two police officers at the Ma’aleh Adumim police station in 2007, was initially closed by the Justice Ministry’s internal investigations department.
But the Palestinian petitioned the court, prompting High Court Justices Salim Joubran, Noam Sohlberg and Isaac Amit to reject the attorney general’s decision concerning one episode involving one of the officers.
“We were convinced that the evidence was thoroughly investigated several times,” the judges wrote, Haaretz reported, but added they “ruled in favour of the plaintiff in part ... in relation to the charge that the policeman had deliberately urinated on the plaintiff in order to humiliate him”.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
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The officer denied the allegation throughout the interrogation but when he was told his DNA had been found on the plaintiff’s clothes, he admitted the incident had taken place but insisted it was an accident.
He claimed to have taken the handcuffed and blindfolded detainee to the bathroom, then asked the plaintiff to stand to the side once he had finished so he too could use the toilet.
The policeman said he asked the prisoner to kneel so he would be in an advantageous position should something happen.
He said when the detainee moved unexpectedly, he turned and caught hold of him, and added that it was probably while moving that drops of urine dripped onto his clothes.
When asked why he had denied the incident had taken place, he told investigators he had felt ashamed of his “blunder,” the Times of Israel reported.
The justices said the officer’s response could be seen either as an admission or a lie and ruled the court should decide.
It comes after an Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldier has said he will appeal an 18-month prison sentence for killing a wounded Palestinian assailant.
Elor Azaria was serving as an army medic in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, when two Palestinians stabbed and wounded another soldier.
One assailant was shot dead and the other was wounded. Eleven minutes later, he took aim with his rifle and fatally shot Abd Elfatah Ashareef, 21, who was lying on the ground unable to move.
A three-judge military court convicted Azaria of manslaughter last month and rejected his contention he believed the man still posed a threat.
Imposing punishment lighter than a three-to-five year sentence requested by the prosecution, the court noted the Hebron incident had been Azaria’s first combat experience and that his record had been unblemished.
The Palestinian government said the term imposed by the court had given Israeli soldiers a “green light” to carry out “executions without fear of real punishment”.
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