Court: Dirani has right to stand trial

Dirani claims he was abused while interrogated for information on Ron Arad.

dirani (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Amiram Binyamini on Tuesday rejected the state's request to cancel a lawsuit filed by a Lebanese terrorist leader held in Israel for 10 years, who accused the state of responsibility for his having allegedly been tortured in jail. The terrorist leader, Mustafa Dirani, filed a NIS 6 million suit in 2000, charging that interrogators had raped him, sodomized him with a club, kept him naked for weeks and humiliated him in an effort to extract information about IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad, who was shot down over southern Lebanon in May 1986. Dirani was released from jail and returned to Lebanon in January 2004, as part of a prisoner swap in which hundreds of Arab prisoners, including him and another Lebanese hostage, Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, were allowed to leave Israel. In return, Hizbullah returned the bodies of three IDF soldiers killed by the Hizbullah in October 2000 and kidnapped Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum. The state argued that Israel should act in accordance with Anglo-American law, which prohibits a state enemy living in a hostile country from suing the state. But Binyamini ruled that Israel did not have a law like the US or judicial rulings like England to prohibit a state enemy from going to court here. Furthermore, the 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom prohibited causing harm to "life, limb or dignity to any human being by virtue of the fact that he is a human being," while the Torts Law stated that anyone was entitled to damages for the injustice caused him by the perpetrator of the injustice. Both these laws were relevant to Dirani's suit. Binyamini added however, that, in accordance with the Commerce with the Enemy Order, whatever money might be coming to Dirani as a result of the lawsuit could not be delivered to him. Dirani was a leader of the Shi'ite Amal terrorist in southern Lebanon, and held Arad in captivity for a year before handing him over to the Hizbullah when he joined that organization. Israel hoped that he and Obeid could be used as bargaining chips for Arad's release. Dirani managed to testify in the lawsuit before he was sent back to Lebanon. He claimed that interrogators had kept him naked and shackled in a secret facility for one month, while six men systematically tortured him, splashing him with hot and freezing water, shaking him until he fainted, squeezing his testicles and sexually assaulting him as they demanded to know Arad's whereabouts. He said he was raped more than once by a soldier in uniform, including with a police baton. "The decision means that the lawsuit will continue to be heard in court," said Dirani's lawyer, Zvi Rish after the ruling. "If we win, we will find a good use for the money, for good causes, even if the money won't reach Dirani. What counts is that the court ruled that even the citizen of an enemy country has rights in Israel."