Watchdog to state: Probe police for roughing up protester

Rozen urges reversing PID decision to close case

Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The state prosecution should overrule the Police Investigations Department and order a criminal investigation of police for roughing up a protester four years ago, Justice Ministry oversight czar David Rozen said Sunday.
His decision comes as alleged police brutality to protesters has been more prominent in the headlines in Israel, the US and worldwide.
Rozen, the former district judge who sent former prime minister Ehud Olmert to jail, is known for having an independent and outspoken streak.
In his decision, he wrote that the PID closed the case without properly questioning the two policemen accused of breaking the law by beating the protester.
Describing the event, he noted that there was a point where the peaceful protest, which lacked a permit and was unlawful, descended into some amount of violence.
When the police confronted the protester and instructed him to leave the area, he refused, insulted them and pushed one of them.
However, the protester said, after this exchange, he did listen to their directive, left the area and was already 50 meters away and on the way home when the policemen attacked him.
The protester was arrested and questioned for allegedly attacking the policemen, while he simultaneously filed a complaint against the policemen for illegally beating him.
Both cases were dismissed as groundless. But the PID did not bother to question the police officers involved, saying a video and reports that were filed about the incident were sufficient.
The PID has argued that Rozen and the prosecution should not reevaluate the case since whether to close a case is at the discretion of the PID.
Rozen said the PID’s failure to interview the policemen was inexcusable and that the case must be reopened to complete the probe properly.
The video the PID said it had based its decision on did not record the alleged beating incident, he said.
The state prosecution should reopen the case or it will appear as if the PID took the side of the police without any confirming evidence and resolving the different versions of what occurred, Rozen said.
The police and the PID have been on the defensive recently for the killing of Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah, the killing of east Jerusalem special-needs student Iyad al-Halak and the arrest and beating of protesters from different backgrounds demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding bribery charges and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.