After over 20 years: an Israeli border police officer who participated in attacking a Palestinian in custody pays the compensation imposed on him by the court
HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual was established in 1988, and in the early years devoted most of its work to cases of violence against Palestinians by Israeli security forces. One of HaMoked's earliest cases has only recently been concluded.
In December 1990, a Palestinian man was arrested by two border police officers in the Mahne Yehuda market in Jerusalem, for refusing to show his identity card. At the police station, the policemen tied the detainee's hands to an iron rail, and at his request, poured on his clothed arm some paint thinner, which he was carrying around in a bottle in his pocket, to satisfy his inhalant habit. But then, one of the police officers, Masud Ohayon, set the drenched arm on fire, while the detainee was still tied.
Police Officer Ohayon was convicted
by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court of negligently setting fire and causing a 2nd degree burn; he was sentenced
to community service, was given a suspended sentence, and was ordered to pay the complainant ILS 2,000 in punitive damages. The other police officer, David Crispin, who gave Ohayon the lighter and failed to report the incident, was convicted by a police disciplinary court; he was reprimanded and demoted, and ordered to pay a punitive fine. A few years later, the Palestinian victim filed a civil claim via HaMoked against both police officers and the State of Israel. In the ruling, issued in 1998, the court ordered all three defendants to pay the plaintiff a total of ILS 20,000 in damages.
The state paid its share of the compensation, almost half the sum, on time. But the two police officers avoided paying their share, and HaMoked had to engage in protracted execution proceedings. Ohayon finished paying his entire debt in 2007. By that time, the plaintiff was no longer alive, and the money was paid to the heirs.
Police Officer Crispin still ignored the ruling. He did not live at his address as listed at the Ministry of Interior, so HaMoked had trouble finding him. Some years after the attack, it was reported in the press that Crispin had resigned from the border police for ideological reasons, because he was affiliated to the far-right. Soon after, it was also reported that Crispin had pointed his gun at a co-worker, while they were working as security guards for a security company. HaMoked tried tracing him by using the services of one of its volunteers, a professional private investigator, but his efforts also came to naught.
An amendment to the Execution Office Law made it possible to track down debtors using information easily obtained from the Execution (Bailiffs) Office. Thus, on March 19, 2014, the private investigator finally traced Crispin. Five days later – almost 25 years after the incident – Crispin paid the Execution Office his debt in full. As stated, the Palestinian had long since passed away, so the remaining debt will go to his heirs.