(photo credit: Courtesy)
The family members of the prison service officers killed in the Carmel forest
fire petitioned the High Court on Monday to order a delay in handing out medals
of distinction to three police officers who also died in the fire, until after
the state comptroller completes the investigation into the events.
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hearing has been scheduled for noon on April 5. The 37 families – whose loved
ones were consumed by flames that engulfed a bus on its way to evacuate prison
inmates feared in danger from the fire – submitted the petition after learning
that the police planned to honor the three, Asst.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer, Asst.-Cmdr.
Lior Boker and Ch.-Supt. Itzik Malina, in a formal ceremony next
The three officers’ relatives are to receive the medals for bravery
in the line of duty from President Shimon Peres.
In the petition, the
families claim that it is too early to be handing out medals before a full
picture of the events emerges from the investigation.
The three police
officers are to be given the posthumous honors for their self-sacrificing
behavior during the blaze. The three ran into the flames to help rescue those
trapped on the bus and died in the effort.
The families, however, still
have questions about the handling of the event by the police. A video taken from
aboard the bus shortly before it was consumed by flames and which was shown to
the victims’ families only last week, shows police officers entering their
vehicles and driving off with 10-meterhigh flames in the background.
video, claim the families, raises questions about whether the deaths of those on
the bus could have been prevented.
“We have the right to know who caused
the death of our loved ones. Granting the medals is akin to acquitting those who
took part in supervising the event,” read the petition.
discount the possibility that the state comptroller will point out any number of
failures on the part of the police, or on the part of the firefighters, or on
the part of the commanders. Therefore it is difficult to comprehend the decision
of the minister [of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch] and the commissioner
to hurry and establish facts even before the causes and circumstances of the
catastrophe have been fully investigated,” the petition
Aharonovitch’s office responded by stating that the decision to
grant the medal of the type in question was solely up to the police
commissioner, and not the minister’s decision to make.
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