(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police and Northern District state prosecutors dropped all charges on Wednesday against a 17-year-old American-Israeli youth allegedly subjected to police abuse and repeated gang rape at the Kishon Prison near Haifa, while being temporarily held in custody last November.
In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the Northern Police District said, “With the consent of Northern District Head, Cmdr. Shimon Koren, the head of prosecutions for the District, Dep.-Cmdr. Ruthi Sheetrit, examined the investigation into the teenager from Karmiel, who was arrested for breaking and entering and drug possession, and ordered the charges dropped due to the youth’s special personal circumstances.”
“A strong sense of justice has finally entered into my heart,” Lior, the teenager’s stepfather, told The Jerusalem Post
“This is only the beginning of more justice that needs to happen, but it is a big first step,” he added.
S. was arrested by Karmiel police officers on November 18, and was accused of being in possession of a small amount of hashish and of “planning” to break into a home. His family says his only mistake was to urinate outside the front yard of his girlfriend’s neighbor as he waited for her to come home, prompting a suspicious neighbor to contact municipal security guards, who in turn called in the police.
Lior said the family could now focus on the trial under way against three minors charged with abusing the teenager in prison, and would monitor the progress of the Police Investigations Department (PID) as it follows up allegations that Karmiel Police officers struck the youth as he was taken to the police station and when he was questioned.
The PID indicated last month during a Knesset Interior Affairs Committee hearing that preliminary findings from its investigation support the teenager’s account of what took place.
“I would like to thank The Jerusalem Post
for its coverage, my attorney Amir Melzer, who did an incredible job, and all of the vital support we received from people,” Lior said, naming McGill University historian and Post blogger Gil Troy and several members of the Anglo-Israeli community.
Melzer, whose request to prosecutors last month led to the charges being dropped, said, “I think the state took a brave decision by admitting that there was no place for this indictment based on the teenager’s emotional state.”
He added, “this emotional state was reached because on top of what he went through, there was an indictment filed against him, and because a police representative to court misled the judge during his initial remand hearing [in November], and because one mistake followed another. Now, the statistics are finally changing.”
Prior to Wednesday’s ruling, S. had been under house arrest since being being released from custody in November. The house arrest was lifted with the dropping of charges.
“I wanted there to be a precedent and to go through with this case,” Melzer said.
“But the interest of the youth comes first. There can be no question that his emotional state would not allow for a trial, even though as his attorney I firmly believe in his innocence,” Melzer added.
“The state caused such severe and disproportional harm to him, that it was in the public interest to drop the charges,” he said.
S.’s family was telephoned on Wednesday by Knesset Member Amir Peretz, who called to express his happiness over the decision.
Peretz had submitted a request last month to Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to drop all
charges against S.
“He was sent from one abuse center to another,” Peretz said.