Police at Tel Aviv Central Bus Station 370.
(photo credit: Ricardo Mallaco)
Two Eritrean men held since last Thursday on suspicion of raping a Tel Aviv woman were handed over to immigration authorities on Wednesday, after police were unable to secure a good enough case against them to secure a remand extension from the Tel Aviv District Court.
The two men will remain in the custody of immigration authorities for the foreseeable future, in keeping with Israel‘s new “infiltrators law“.
Only two days ago, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered the two men released from police custody, saying the investigation against the two was insufficient to keep them in custody any longer. Police immediately appealed the decision and the court agreed to hold another hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a compromise was reached between the court and police, under which the two men would be handed over to immigration authorities, who will hold them in one of their facilities until construction of the mass detention center for illegal migrants is completed this fall.
Tel Aviv Police Spokesman Moshe Katz said the case against the two men is still open, but that both sides agreed that the compromise reached Wednesday was the best possible solution at the time being.
The move could indicate that police were not able to present enough evidence to secure a further remand extension, which are given by the court to afford police more time to gather material for an indictment.
The “Infiltrators Law” passed in January allows Israel to jail without trial for up to three years people caught illegally crossing Israel’s borders.
Under Israeli law, if a foreigner is suspected of committing a crime they can be deported from the country. Since Eritreans cannot be deported to their home country because they face the threat of persecution upon return, the other option is to turn them over to the custody of immigration authorities for detention.
Police reported last Thursday that the day earlier the two men lured an Israeli woman into an abandoned building used by junkies, squatters, and prostitutes on Tel Aviv’s Hamasger Street earlier in the day. One of the men raped her while the other kept watch, according to police.
Police said the 39-year-old woman had told them she had got off a bus near the building and was walking down the street when one of the men asked her to help with his baby. When they reached the building the two men dragged her inside, and violently raped her, police said.
On Wednesday it emerged that the case fell through because the complainant would not cooperate with police. According to the defendants’ attorneys, the men paid the woman to have sex with them.
After the alleged crime was first reported, Interior Minister Eli Yishai took to the airwaves to say African migrants are as great a threat as Iran and anti-migrant activists were quick to point to the incident as an indication of the danger posed by Africans.