Trial opens in 2009 IDF shooting of US activist Tristan Anderson

The High Court of Justice in July 2013 ordered the state to reopen an investigation into the shooting of the American activist during a 2009 protest against the security barrier.

December 8, 2014 03:17
2 minute read.
IDF troops on Lebanon border [file]

IDF troops on Lebanon border [file]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The civil damages trial in the 2009 shooting by the IDF of US activist Tristan Anderson, who was permanently physically and mentally disabled, opened on Sunday before Jerusalem District Court Judge Raphael Kobi.

Another hearing is scheduled for Thursday and more witnesses will be called later in the month and beyond.

The civil damages trial is one part of the legal battle in which the state prosecution fought hard not to criminally investigate the incident.

The High Court of Justice in July 2013 ordered the state to reopen an investigation into the shooting of the American activist during a 2009 protest against the security barrier.

The ruling increased hope for using interviews and testimony of security forces interrogated in the investigation, for purposes of the civil trial as well.

A tear gas canister struck Anderson, an International Solidarity Movement activist from Oakland, California, in the head during the demonstration, which included violence, in Ni’lin, west of Ramallah.

He was hit despite not participating in any violent activities and observing the protests from afar behind a mosque in the village, according to Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.

Further, his injuries resulted in severe permanent brain damage and paralysis to half his body, although Israeli medical services were able to save him from dying, Yesh Din said.

The NGO filed a petition to the High Court in 2012 on behalf of Anderson’s parents, Nancy and Michael, demanding that a police investigation be reopened to examine aspects of the incident that they allegedly ignored.

In ordering the case reopened, the High Court directed the state to focus on an additional group of security personnel whom the police allegedly did not question.

Yesh Din provided a video showing a second group of security personnel nearby and also provided evidence they shot tear gas grenades found in the area, and not the first group whom the police interrogated.

The grenades in the area had a range of only 100 meters, while the interrogated group of security personnel was 300 m. away, which means the grenades were likely shot by a different group.

Yesh Din alleged that the police never came to review the scene of the incident.

In January 2010, the Justice Ministry said no indictments would be served in the case and that a police investigation had showed there was no criminal intent in harming Anderson.

Yesh Din attorneys Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer said it was “an extreme case of police negligence,” that officers had not examined the scene and had questioned the wrong people.

“To date, the border police who were within firing range of Tristan have never been questioned,” they said.

“We live with the consequences every day, but the persons who shot him are not held responsible and justice has not been done.”

The state agreed to pass on items of evidence as they are discovered and within 15 days of being revealed.

It also committed to completing a new round of review and to updating the court within 120 days.

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