'Prisons Service at fault for errant court transfer'

During the transfer from prison to court, the handcuffed rapist made his escape.

sela in court 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
sela in court 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A secretary at the Tel Aviv District Labor Court mistakenly sent a summons to Benny Sela for a hearing last Friday, but the Prisons Service should have known that it was incomplete and phoned to double-check, Courts Administration spokeswoman Rivka Aharoni said Sunday. Aharoni's statement followed an examination of the events leading to Sela's having been taken out of prison for a hearing that was not scheduled to take place for another month. During the transfer from prison to court, the handcuffed rapist leaped over an electric gate and escaped. According to Aharoni, Sela filed a lawsuit against a former employer, Arye Diament, in Tel Aviv District Labor Court on March 6. The hearing was set for October 22. However, Sela did not turn up in court. The court registrar handed down a decision that if Sela did not submit a statement explaining what happened within 30 days, the lawsuit would be canceled. She scheduled a hearing for November 24 to find out whether the suit was still in effect. One week later, Sela asked the court to cancel the scheduled hearing and set a new date. On the same day, the registrar rescheduled the hearing for December 21 and instructed the court administration to notify the sides. Sela was to be notified via the Prisons Service. On October 30, a court secretary accidentally sent the Prisons Service via computer a summons for Sela for the originally scheduled hearing on November 24. As soon as she realized what she had done, she sent another message canceling the previous one. Two days later, the secretary sent by computer another message to the Prisons Service summoning Sela to the hearing on December 21. Aharoni said that according to standard procedures the summons for a prisoner includes two documents. In addition to the invitation, the court sends another document entitled "Prisoner Summons" to any prisoner summoned to a court hearing. Only the two documents taken together comprise a complete and proper court summons to a prisoner. The "Prisoner Summons" is also sent from a different computer source than the invitation, explained Aharoni. Furthermore, the invitation for Sela that the Prisons Service erroneously received for November 24 did not include the court stamp or the secretary's signature. Furthermore, wrote Aharoni, the Prisons Service usually calls the court before a hearing scheduled for a prisoner to make sure the hearing hasn't been canceled. Aharoni told The Jerusalem Post that the Courts Administration "has behaved with total transparency [in examining the events behind Sela's erroneous transfer from prison to court]. I would expect that other authorities would do the same, instead of blaming us for the failure."