Police indict Leef, fail to give her timely notice

Social justice protest leader only sends attorney, hearing postponed; “All the protesters are being indicted,” attorney says.

Daphne Leef arrested 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Michal Grossberg)
Daphne Leef arrested 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Michal Grossberg)
J14 protest leader Daphni Leef’s arraignment on charges dating back to a protest she participated in around six months ago was postponed Monday until January 23, after police failed to notify her regarding the hearing until the last minute and she refused to attend.
Leef’s attorney Gabi Lasky told The Jerusalem Post that the “indictment is not just against Daphni; all the protesters are being indicted.”
According to Lasky, Leef was not informed of the indictment and hearing until late Sunday night when the police phoned her.
Lasky said that Leef only learned of the actual charges against her – including using violence to prevent arrest, obstructing a police officer and taking part in a disturbance – through the media, as the police representative who called her gave her no specific information.
Lasky herself was only hired in a rush even later Sunday night and she appeared on Leef’s behalf in court this morning.
Lasky slammed the police for not notifying Leef sooner and for filing an indictment against her in November without sending her a copy.
Only in court this morning did Lasky officially receive a copy from police, she said.
At the hearing, Lasky told the court that “it is a pity” the police failed to notify Leef earlier as “it’s not very hard to find her.”
After the hearing, Lasky said she could not yet respond to the allegations since she still had not received the evidence underlying the indictment.
She also called the police’s failure to notify Leef in the normal course outright “negligence.”
The bizarre turn of events simply highlighted further the already odd case in which the state attorney refused to indict Leef, and the police hired its own counsel to do so.
Asked about the alleged failure to notify Leef in the normal course, the Justice Ministry spokesman said, “We have no connection with this case.”
One police spokesman said he knew nothing about the case and another spokesman did not answer her telephone.
The indictment, originally filed on November 1, 2012, alleges that Leef and hundreds of other protesters began attacking police and municipal workers who came to break up an illegal protest they were holding on Rothschild Boulevard.
The indictment alleges that while Leef was being arrested, other protesters began attacking and disturbing police in an attempt to free her, and that Leef herself sat on the ground in order to prevent them from taking her away, an act that it says severely complicated the police work.
Leef and other protesters, for their part, accused police of using violence and excessive force in breaking up the protest.
Lasky said that the indictment conveniently left out Leef’s hand being broken. It is documented that Leef suffered a hand injury and was sent for medical care.
The attorney said there would be no secrets in the trial as the incident was one of the most videotaped of such events in recent memory, and that she would have plenty of video footage and witnesses to testify on Leef’s behalf.
She added that many had “called the police’s decision to use force to clear the protests a strategic error, this is a much bigger strategic error.”
The protest was followed the next night by a protest march in Tel Aviv during which some demonstrators broke bank windows and dozens were arrested, in what was then seen as the beginning of a new, more heated version of the social justice movement of the previous summer.
Leef could not be reached Sunday night, but wrote on her Twitter on Monday: “an indictment?? they’re presenting an indictment against me??”
Hadash MK Dov Henin released a press release saying he had attended the hearing.
He said that as a “member of Knesset I am embarrassed. The state needs to apologize to Daphni, not to bring her to trial.”
Ben Hartman contributed to this story.