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Four Tel Aviv policemen were formally charged on Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court for allegedly subjecting a suspected Palestinian motorcycle thief to a string of humiliating abuses last month.
The officers are accused of striking Sha'alan Abu Najma in the chest, shoving a rifle into his buttocks, urinating on his clothes, and emptying an ashtray on his head in the bathroom of a Hebron police station. They are also suspected of hanging bananas on Abu Najma's ears, and filming the abuse on a cell phone.
Abu Najma was arrested on December 31 after demanding NIS 40,000 ransom from a Tel Aviv resident in exchange for returning a stolen motorcycle. Pretending to be the bike owner, officers set a meeting point in the West Bank with Abu Najma. He was arrested after a struggle with officers in which pepper spray was used, and brought to the Hebron police station.
"This indictment is shocking from the perspective of the alleged facts it contains," said Judge Nava Ben-Or, who presided over the hearing on Sunday. "It is difficult to imagine more severe offenses that can be attributed to police officers," she added.
The suspects - a special patrol officer and three policemen from a detective unit at the Yarkon police station in Tel Aviv, are charged with abusing a helpless individual, indecent acts, assault, and violation of public trust.
Twelve officers were arrested earlier this month by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department in connection with the alleged abuse. Eight officers were released after questioning.