REPORT ISSUED ON CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING DEATH OF DETAINEE
(Communicated by Justice Ministry Spokeswoman)
The State Attorney accepted the recommendation of the State Attorney’s Department for the Investigation of Police Officers, according to which criminal responsibility for the death of Abd al-Samad Harizat cannot be attributed to the GSS investigator. At the same time, it was recommended that the GSS interrogator be prosecuted before a disciplinary tribunal. In addition, the State Attorney recommended that a further review be conducted concerning a number of issues which require conclusions to be reached and additional disciplinary and organizational measures to be taken. These decisions were made with the knowledge of the Attorney-General.
As will be recalled, on April 22, 1995, the detainee was taken, in a state of unconsciousness, from the detention facility at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem. Harizat had been taken to hospital after his condition deteriorated, while being questioned by the GSS.
That same evening, the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers began its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his being taken to hospital.
On April 25, 1995, Harizat died and, that same day, the Department for Investigations of Police Officers approached the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court to request that an autopsy be ordered. On April 26, 1995, the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court ordered that an autopsy be conducted. V=F2=D6=D0$y=B4[$bs The findings of the autopsy indicated that his death was caused by a simple edema and bleeding in the head, caused as a result of a rapid twisting of the head, without any direct and/or indirect blows to the head.
The investigation conducted by the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers concluded that the deceased, who had been arrested during the early morning hours of the day, had been questioned in connection with the activities of an Iz a-Din al-Kassam squad in Hebron, and regarding his ties to leaders of the squad who were linked with numerous acts of murder. During the course of the questioning, the investigating officers held and shook him by his clothes; this was repeated a number of times until the afternoon.
The Department for the Investigation of Police Officers has evidence according to which, in the early afternoon, the deceased was apparently =E5o=F6=FB=E9=DD=D7+[d1bW+"k=E4oYs#<="D0haken" two additional times by the in= "vestigating=20" officer not in the manner previously described, but while being held by his shoulders. Soon after, he began to lose consciousness and his questioning was halted.
Medical opinions rendered by the Director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine have suggested that the backward and forward shaking of the shoulders can cause angular acceleration of the head and severe brain damage, with a rapid loss of consciousness. It was also noted that the severe damage caused by the angular acceleration of the head is rare in medical experience and is generally recognized only by physicians and scientists dealing with brain diseases and damage, and with forensic medicine.
The opinion even found that it is reasonable to assume that the fatal damage to the brain was caused by shaking the deceased by the shoulders and/or by the clothing covering his shoulders, although one cannot rule out the possibility that the brain damage to the deceased was compounded
and caused, at least partially, during the course of the transition from shaking the deceased by his clothing to his being shaken by his shoulders.
From=20this, the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers has determined the cause of death, with relative certainty, and is also aware of the identity of the investigator who shook the deceased.
The sum of the evidence in the possession of the Department for the Investigation of Police Officers, including the opinion of the Institute for Forensic Medicine, has indicated that the investigator who shook the deceased while grasping his shoulders could not have, and need not have, anticipated the fatal consequences of his actions or the irreversible brain damage, given the rare incidence of death from these actions, to the point that it is known only to physicians and scientists specializing in brain diseases and damage. This comes in addition to the difficulty in obtaining proof, to the degree of certainty required in criminal cases, with regard to the causal link between the actions of this investigator and the death of the deceased.
The State Attorney informed the High Court of Justice, this evening
(Wednesday), June 7, 1995, that, with the presentation of the report to the investigating judge in the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court, the matter of the appeal against the decision of the investigating judge has been set aside.