High Court to review evidence in death of 10-year-old

High Court to review evi

The state and a Palestinian couple whose 10-year-old daughter was killed almost three years ago during a clash between border policemen and stone-throwing youths in east Jerusalem's Anata neighborhood disagreed on the facts of the case during a hearing in the High Court of Justice on Tuesday. The petitioners, Bassam and Salwa Aramin, who are represented by Yesh Din and attorney Michael Sfard, asked the High Court to order the state to indict a border policeman who had fired rubber bullets at the stone-throwers and allegedly hit their daughter, Abir, in the back of the head. Abir Aramin had left school a few minutes earlier, bought candy in a store across the street and had been walking toward the entrance to the village with her sister and two friends when she suddenly collapsed after being struck in the back of the head. She died two days later. Two pathologists who performed an autopsy on Aramin concluded that her wound corresponded to that caused by a rubber bullet, but could not rule out the possibility that it had been caused by a stone of similar size. Sfard and Yesh Din filed the petition on behalf of the Aramins in June 2008, after the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office announced that it was closing the file without filing indictments due to lack of evidence, and subsequently rejected an appeal by Yesh Din to reconsider the decision. Sfard told the court that according to the testimony of the border policemen, there had been two groups of stone-throwers, one concentrated at the village cemetery and the other at the school. He added that the border police jeep had driven to the main square, facing two streets that came together in a v-shape in front of them. On the street to the left were the stone-throwers. On the street to the right were Abir and the other girls. It would have taken only a small error of judgment to hit the girl rather than the stone-throwers, said Sfard. On the other hand, he continued, the stone-throwers at the school were too far away to hit Abir, while the stone-throwers at the cemetery could not have hit her because a three-story building stood between them and the girl. The state's representative, attorney Hila Gorney, said Sfard's description of the events was incorrect. The jeep had not been where he said it had, she maintained, and from its location, the border policemen could not have hit the girl. Gorney opposed Sfard's request that the court look at the evidence gathered by police to determine whose facts were correct. If his account was correct, he said, the court must order the state to indict the policemen. The court gave the state 14 days to present it with materials from the investigation and documentation of official police communications from that day. The courtroom was packed with supporters of the Aramins. Bassam Aramin is an active member of Combatants for Peace, an organization composed of former IDF soldiers and Palestinians who were formerly active in Fatah and other terrorist organizations. Dozens of supporters arrived at the court before 9 a.m. and waited for five hours until the hearing began.