Shin Bet: We have been forced to release arch terrorists back to Gaza

The Shin Bet will continue to have to release arch terrorists without a major change to the laws of evidence in terror cases.

January 11, 2016 19:36
1 minute read.

Palestinian militants of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas' armed wing, take part in a rally in Gaza City. (photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

A representative of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday that the agency has had to release many terrorists and will continue to have to do so without a major change to the laws of evidence in terrorism cases.

“In many cases, we collected testimony from Palestinians, or infiltrators, about terrorists who were not yet arrested. With these testimonies we collected large amounts of information about terrorist activity in Gaza,” the representative said.

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“After time passed and a terrorist suspect was arrested, sometimes with arch terrorists, we could not bring a witness to testify in court, because he had already been released, which forced us to release to Gaza arch terrorists.”

The change in the law sought by the Shin Bet and the state prosecution is to allow courts to accept as evidence incriminating statements made outside of court and even before a defendant may even be under investigation.

The committee’s own legal advisers oppose the change as dangerous, as it would overturn a basic principle of criminal law requiring testimony to be given in court, which allows a defendant to cross-examine his accuser.

Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri stated, “Most of the law’s provisions do not depart from criminal law. This is the uniqueness of terrorism.”

Nizri rejected a suggestion to allow pre-indictment testimony by witnesses in custody in place of the more fundamental new rule change, saying he thinks a defendant’s rights could be protected by directing the court to give lesser weight to such statements in deciding whether to convict.

Most of the committee supported the change, though MK Michal Rozin opposed both it and the alternative solution suggested of pre-indictment testimony.

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein claimed that changing the law could help bring terrorists to justice who otherwise get put in administrative detention.

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