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The High Court of Justice on Monday suggested keeping a policeman still on active duty after being charged with beating up an anti-disengagement protester away from the public and given a clerical job until the end of his trial.
The suggestion was made by Justice Ayala Procaccia during a High Court hearing on a petition by the protester, Akiva Witkin, who is now a soldier in the regular army. Witkin, represented by attorney Nadav Ha'etzni, called on the police to suspend the officer, Eliran Avraham, and two other policemen whom he accused of beating him up during and after a protest in Ramat Gan on June 29.
According to Witkin's allegations, three policemen, including Avraham, attacked him without warning during a midday demonstration on Rehov Jabotinsky. They allegedly threw him on the ground, pinned him down, twisted his arms, choked him, stuck their fingers in his eyes and pressed down on his nose until it almost broke. One of the policemen allegedly stuck his fingers in Witkin's nose, twisted them inside his nose and caused heavy bleeding from Witkin's nose and eyes.
Witkin was then taken to police headquarters in Ramat Gan. Three hours later, the police ordered him into another room where Avraham allegedly "beat him systematically and continuously, slapped him, punched him in the stomach and chest, and head-butted him." Witkin lodged a complaint against the three policemen, who were subsequently investigated by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department. The police filed charges against Avraham.
In court, Ha'etzni said that since the police obviously believed that Avraham was guilty of their charges, he should be suspended "so that the public would not lose confidence in the police and come to suspect that it behaved improperly."
The state's representative, Ofira Dagan, said that Avraham had been a policeman for 11 years and had an excellent record. In all those years, only four complaints had been made against him and he had been given excellent work assessments. She added that Avraham claimed he was a victim of mistaken identity and that he had not been in the room with Witkin.
In response to Procaccia's recommendation, Ha'etzni said he agreed that Avraham should only be fired if the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court convicted him, but maintained that he should be suspended immediately so that other policeman would understand that actions such as the ones he allegedly committed would not be tolerated.
Dagan said she would consult with the police regarding Procaccia's proposal to put Avraham in an office until the end of his trial.