J'lem mob attack interrogations mistakenly deleted

Police erase dozens of hours of video related to August lynch attack on Arab teenager; lawyers call for indictments to be thrown out.

Nariman Julani 370 (photo credit: Ilene Prusher)
Nariman Julani 370
(photo credit: Ilene Prusher)
Jerusalem police informed the Justice Ministry this week that they accidentally deleted dozens of hours of video recorded interrogations related to the mob beating of an Arab teenager in August.
The lost footage could make it harder to convict the suspects, or could even undermine the severity of the convictions and the sentences because the judges will have significantly less evidence.
Seventeen-year-old Jamal Julani, a resident of Ras-el- Amud, was with three other friends on August 16, when he ran into a group of Jewish youths in Zion Square. According to the indictments against the suspects, around 30 youth were prowling around downtown Jerusalem “looking to beat up Arabs.” The youth gathered in Cat Square (Kikar Hatulot) and sang racist songs while harassing passing Arabs, before a smaller group moved on to Zion Square where they attacked Julani and his friends, the indictments stated. Julani fell as he was attempting to flee and the attackers beat Julani unconscious. Paramedics who arrived on the scene used CPR and defibrillators for more than 10 minutes before his pulse returned, and evacuated him in critical but stable condition to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood. He was hospitalized for more than a week.
In the weeks following the incident, Jerusalem police arrested nine minors and one adult, 19-year-old Shimon Siman-Tov, in connection with the incident. Two of the suspects are female.
In September, the ten suspects were indicted for a variety of charges including aggravated assault and battery, racial incitement and inciting violence.
In many of the interviews, police could only transfer the first hour of each videotaped investigation interview to a burned CD, while the rest was erased with no way to retrieve it.
Jerusalem deputy police spokeswoman Shlomit Bakshi confirmed the police had notified the Justice Ministry of the lost footage but refused to comment further on the incident.
The Justice Ministry recieves information in stages from the police, so it only became clear how much footage was missing recently. Sources said the loss was a technological glitch and not a conspiracy against Arab victims.
Police apparently attempted to recover the information with computer experts but were unsuccessful.
Defense lawyers for the suspects slammed the announcement.
“The destruction of the investigation materials by the police is another indication of the negligent way the police carried out the investigation for this incident,” Ariel Atari, a lawyer for one of the suspects, said on Tuesday. He said that the indictments against the suspects should be thrown out because the investigative footage is not available.
Defense attorneys can use videotaped footage of the investigations to prove a suspect was coerced or highlight differences between the written report of the questioning and what the suspect said.