Duma terrorist tries to put Shin Bet on trial before Supreme Court

Amiram Ben-Uliel is appealing his life sentences, claiming that his confession came from torture.

Amiram Ben Uliel, the suspect in the Duma arson murder in July 2015 where three members of the Dawabshe family were killed, arrives to hear his verdict at the court on May 18, 2020 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Amiram Ben Uliel, the suspect in the Duma arson murder in July 2015 where three members of the Dawabshe family were killed, arrives to hear his verdict at the court on May 18, 2020
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Lawyers for Amiram Ben-Uliel have requested new disclosures of how the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) treated him during his interrogation for the terror arson murders of the Palestinian Dawabshe family.
Leading into Tuesday’s deadline for the state to file a legal brief in the ongoing appeal to the Supreme Court of Ben-Uliel’s conviction and multiple life sentences this past September by the Lod District Court, his lawyers opened a new front to try to undermine the conviction.
According to Ben-Uliel’s lawyers, Avigdor Feldman and Yehoshua Resnick, the Shin Bet and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit undertook and authorized illegal torture of their client without sufficient legal grounds.
Whereas the only legal ground for the agency’s aggressive enhanced interrogation methods is to prevent a “ticking bomb”-style impending attack, the lawyers allege that no such attack was in play, and the only purpose was to try to get Ben-Uliel to confess to the arson murders.
In the original trial before the district court, that lower court did toss out any confessions Ben-Uliel made in the 36 hours after he was given enhanced interrogation, but permitted using statements he made before and after those 36 hours for evidence.
In the new appeal to the Supreme Court, his lawyers hope to toss more of the evidence beyond the 36-hour time frame and then to reverse the conviction itself.
They also noted an Uvda interview of Deputy Attorney-General Raz Nizri in January 2020 which could open up law enforcement to having to share additional information that it has not yet revealed.
In September, the Lod District Court sentenced Ben-Uliel to three life sentences.
The July 2015 attack killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe and his parents, Sa’ad and Riham, and destabilized Israeli-Arab relations throughout the region.
An unusual aspect of the appeal is that Feldman usually defends Palestinians and causes on the political Left.
However, Feldman was the lawyer who convinced the High Court to outlaw Shin Bet interrogation torture in 1999, so he has a special connection to the issue, whether it impacts those on the Right or the Left.
Besides Ben-Uliel’s confession, the lower court said it was convinced by his voluntary physical reconstruction of the crime at the scene of the murders.
In addition, the court cited Ben-Uliel’s refusal to testify in his own defense.
The court wrote that: “The defendant described the scene of the crime in extreme detail in his confessions… which was later clarified to be meticulously accurate… the defendant carried out a reconstruction with great accuracy and which was close to identical to his confessions — something which rebuts the claims” that he was guessing or tipped off in the moment by the Shin Bet investigators.
For months after the murder, the Shin Bet performed a massive manhunt and investigation, but turned up empty-handed.
Former Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen has told The Jerusalem Post that he has fundamentally altered the entire approach toward Jewish terrorism against Palestinians, taking a much harder stance and investing far more resources.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon made frequent statements about the severity of the incident, and assured regional partners in the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and globally of their commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice.
When the Shin Bet finally apprehended Ben-Uliel, as well as a minor who was accused of conspiring with him regarding the murders, the situation was viewed as so desperate that they used torture/enhanced interrogation to get the defendants to confess.
This ushered in a whole new side and saga to the case – because suddenly, enhanced interrogation, administrative detention and other extreme measures were being used not only against Palestinians, as they had been in the past, but also against Jews.