Court throws out case due to unlawful interrogation

A Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court throws out an accused's confession because police violated his rights.

Gavel from Reuters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
Gavel from Reuters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Chip East)
A Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court decision to throw out an accused’s confession on the grounds that the police had violated his rights – by declining to explain them to him and by telling him he would be freed only if he confessed – was announced by the court on Wednesday.
The decision itself, regarding Moshe Cholaker’s confession, was issued last Thursday.
According to the indictment, in Lod on March 16, 2010, the accused stripped off his pants and displayed himself publicly in a sexually indecent manner in front of nearby minors.
These allegations were based on a confession made by the accused to police during his interrogation.
However, the defense later denied the confession and claimed that Cholaker only confessed because he was told that if he refused to, he would be held indefinitely, whereas if he confessed he would be freed.
In addition, the accused claimed that when he was initially questioned he was not informed of his rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation.
Cholaker said that his confession was given to a second investigator, after the first had convinced him to confess; and that only the second discussion was recorded by the police.
The state argued that there was only one transcript and one interrogation, and that the transcript showed no irregularities.
However, the court found the accused’s version more believable because there were irregularities prior to the interrogation.
The arresting officer admitted that he did not fill out an initial report regarding the arrest, and could not explain why. This officer also admitted that the one report which he did prepare regarding the arrest, was prepared hours later than usual, but he was unable to explain why.
The court surmised that the delay in preparing the report occurred because the officer did in fact perform an improper, off-the-record interrogation in which he pressured Cholaker to confess in the later interrogation.
Since the accused expressed no doubt about his version of events and the officer said he could not remember or really specifically deny the account, the judge declared the confession inadmissible.
Although technically the state could still try to convict the accused with other evidence, the loss of the confession undermines the heart of the state’s case and leaves the police open too serious criticism.