Court Orders Release of One Duma Suspect

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Although it promised indictments this week, the Shin Bet will be sending home one of the detainees in the Duma arson case. The suspect has been held for 29 days under administrative detention laws, under what his attorneys called “very difficult conditions.” The suspect had not been permitted to meet with his attorneys the entire time, and family members said that he was forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor, subjected to long hours of intense questioning designed to break his spirit, and had not even been permitted to put on tefillin.

The Lod District Court ordered the release of the suspect in response to an order to show cause, filed by attorneys. Police insisted that they needed to continue to hold the suspect in order to gather more evidence, but that position was rejected. Reports released Monday said that the only evidence authorities had managed to gather against the suspect was his involvement in a disturbance – two years ago.

On Sunday, sources in the Justice Ministry said that they expect several indictments to be issued this week against suspects in the case. They stated that once indictments are issued, the public “will understand the need for the intensive investigation that has been conducted against the suspects.”

The Shin Bet has been under intense criticism in recent days, as rumors of strong-armed interrogation of the suspects by its investigators – likened by some to “torture” – have leaked out. The sources said that they intend to present evidence this week that will give “clear indications that these suspects planned and executed a heinous crime” against the Dawabshe family. Last summer,  in the Arab village of Duma in the Shomron, two houses went up in flames after being firebombed by masked attackers, whom the Shin Bet believe to be Jews. In one house, an 18-month-old baby was burned to death, and his parents eventually died of their injuries. The Shin Bet has been looking for suspects in the case since then, concentrating on its theory that the arson was carried out by Jewish radicals, although no evidence for this has yet been presented.

At least one detainee arrested several weeks ago in connection with the arson has confessed to being involved in the crime – but according to his attorney, right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, that confession is inadmissible, because it was obtained “under duress. I have met many people in prison over the years, but the vision I saw when I met with my client after 21 days in custody was shocking,” Ben-Gvir said Tuesday. “He was broken physically and spiritually, and he needs mental help. The Shin Bet interrogators indeed ‘broke’ him, in all senses of the term.”

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