HaMoked calls on the State Attorney's Office to properly handle complaints by Palestinians of torture during ISA interrogations: a probe into alleged acts of torture by interrogation officials is in the public's interest
On the night of November 16, 2009, the military arrested a Palestinian man who was sleeping at his parents' home. After spending almost ten hours in a temporary detention facility, the man was transferred to the Petah Tikva interrogation facility of Israel Security Agency (ISA), where, according to inmates' accounts, there are harsh holding conditions and degrading treatment. That same evening, he was interrogated for less than four hours, and then locked in a confinement cell for some three consecutive days, without being interrogated.
After this respite, ISA agents interrogated him for a week, subjecting him to sustained and severe abuse. Among other things, the interrogators left him shackled to a chair in a painful position for hours at a time, all the while preventing him from sleeping; they interrogated him using threats and beatings; they exploited his parents to cause him severe anguish – humiliating and threatening them in his presence. Once, they even kept him for a whole night, tied to a concrete bed, immobile, his hands and legs shackled, without food, drink or access to a toilet. Following the interrogation period, he was tried and sentenced to two years in prison.
On June 30, 2010, HaMoked appealed to the supervisor in charge of the ISA interrogee-complaints comptroller, to demand an investigation of the unlawful interrogation methods ISA had used against the man. According to the procedure, the comptroller's supervisor – an employee of the State Attorney's Office – transfers complaints to the comptroller, who is an ISA official, charged with investigating complaints against ISA interrogators. Based on his findings, the State Attorney's Office decides whether to instigate criminal proceedings against the interrogators.
In its letter, HaMoked described the events as related by the complainant, and requested to investigate the suspicion that ISA interrogators had strayed from their authority, and used prohibited methods, which contradict the rules prescribed by the High Court of Justice and the absolute prohibition on torture. Furthermore, Hamoked argued that in view of the fact that the man had hardly been interrogated during the first three days, the use of prohibited methods cannot be defended by claiming that it had been an urgent interrogation requiring exceptional means ("a necessity interrogation"). HaMoked also stressed that the interrogation methods used against the man were unjustifiably cruel and humiliating, and harmful to his body and his dignity.
In June 2012, more than two years after the complaint was filed, the ISA complaints comptroller contacted HaMoked to help bring the man for deposition on his complaint, because he had been released from prison already a year ago. As it turns out, throughout his two year stint in the Israeli prison, his complaint was never rigorously examined. Contacted by HaMoked, the complainant, clarified he was not withdrawing his complaint, but given the contemptible attitude exhibited by the authorities, he did not believe that he would receive justice, and therefore there was no reason to go to the trouble of supplying an additional testimony, on top of his detailed affidavit given two years earlier.