Order nisi in HaMoked’s petition: The State Attorney’s Office must show cause why it would not reopen a 2018 complaint of police brutality towards a Palestinian juvenile detainee
At 3:00 am on November 18, 2018, 17-year-old Amir Abu Sbeih, a Palestinian youth from East Jerusalem, was dragged from his bed and taken for interrogation by the Israel police. At the Russian Compound detention center, Abu Sbeih suffered severe police brutality during the five-hour wait for the interrogation. Among other things, his head was bashed against the wall and on the floor and later, he was repeatedly kicked while he lay on the floor – all the while he remained blindfolded and cuffed hand and feet. The two men who conducted his interrogation failed to act on his complaint, despite his injured face and the fact that he told them about the beatings. They did not even bother to provide him with medical treatment. He was released later that afternoon, without any charges.
In December 2018, HaMoked submitted a complaint on his behalf
to the Police Investigation Unit (PIU), and attached photos of his injuries and hospital medical documents regarding his condition the day after the event. In May 2019, the PIU notified HaMoked that it had decided not to open an investigation, without providing any substantive reason. HaMoked obtained the PIU investigation materials; they were flimsy and showed that not the slightest effort had been made to discover the identity of the police officers present at the police station at the time. And so in September 2019, HaMoked filed an appeal to the Appeals Unit at the State Attorney’s Office over the decision not to open a criminal investigation in this case. A year later, the appeal was rejected.
On November 1, 2020, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to reverse the State Attorney’s Office decision to reject the appeal. During the hearing of April 26, 2021, the Justices directed pointed questions at the state’s representative. Following this questioning, the state representative informed the Court that
“we are willing to perform two investigative actions in the petitioner’s matter: one is to question the interrogator… additionally we will check how many police officers were present at that shift… and then we will consider how we can proceed”. In an updating notice of June 15, 2021, submitted on the Court’s instruction, the State announced that no further police action was deemed necessary nor was there call to alter the rejection of HaMoked’s appeal. This, following the interrogation “under caution” of Abu Sbeih’s interrogator, who denied there was any possibility he had ever failed to record an interrogee’s complaint of police violence or physical signs of such violence. In its response, HaMoked requested the Court to order the State to conduct all required investigative steps with the thoroughness warranted in such a severe case.
Consequently, on October 14, 2021, the HCJ issued an order nisi instructing the State to justify why it would not cancel the decision to reject the petitioner’s appeal against the closure of his complaint. The State is to submit its response by November 14, 2021.