Police ordered to reopen 2009 suicide case

Court says Prisons Service may have been negligent when dealing with inmate Eitan Dviker’s death.

Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court judge Michael Karshen on Monday ordered the police to reopen an investigation into the apparent suicide of a sex offender who was found dead in his cell at Hasharon Prison in 2009.
The judge determined that the police had not done enough to investigate the Prisons Service’s role in the death and had relied too much on the findings of an internal inquiry commission, which ruled out Prisons Service negligence. The judge also criticized the State Attorney’s Office for accepting the internal inquiry findings.
The police are required to investigate every inmate suicide that takes place, but the findings of the investigations are usually kept secret.
The deceased, 22-year-old Eitan Dviker, who was serving a 12-year sentence for a series of sex offenses, was found dead in his cell in June 2009. Dviker had apparently hanged himself. A month later, his parents filed a request to the court to have their son’s death investigated, as they suspected he had killed himself because he was being harassed and that the prison administration had done nothing to prevent or deal with the problem.
In March 2010, the family once again turned to the court, having learned that the internal inquiry into their relative’s death had concluded that there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the Prisons Service.
The parents acknowledged that Dviker had taken his own life, but claimed that the Prisons Service had been negligent in its duties to guard the life of their son. They demanded to see the investigation materials, but the Prisons Service refused.
Part of the commission’s material was then brought before the judge, who determined that there was sufficient evidence for the police to conduct an investigation into negligence on behalf of the Prisons Service.
According to the judge’s ruling, Dviker had repeatedly made statements to his guards threatening that he would kill himself, and twice attempted to do so. The ruling also revealed that Dviker had constantly complained about abuse at the hands of the other inmates and that despite repeatedly meeting with the prison’s administrative and mental health staff, he had been refused permission to transfer to another section of the prison.
“In a letter to the placement committee, the deceased claimed he had been attacked multiple times by other prisoners because of the nature of his offenses,” read the ruling.
In an effort to be transferred, Dviker began to starve himself, and after being released from solitary confinement, he hanged himself in his cell.
“After having read all the material, there is no escaping the conclusion that the police did not do enough to investigate the Prisons Service’s responsibility for the death. The facts presented above, along with the rest of the evidence collected for the commission, point to alleged negligence by the Prisons Service in treating the deceased and to a causal link between the negligence and his successful suicide,” wrote Karshen in his ruling.
“It is clear that the police should have investigated the circumstances of the case and not leave the investigation to an internal official, who acted, for all intents and purposes, on behalf of the agency that was supposed to be the primary suspect,” he continued.
“Moreover, putting it mildly, it appears that the prosecution, in adopting the commission’s findings, was misguided in determining that if no single person was responsible for the death, then it was impossible to attribute negligence to the legal entity charged with looking after him properly, meaning the Prisons Service,” Karshen wrote.
The judge gave the police six months to complete a thorough investigation into the death and possible negligence by the Prisons Service and present it to the State Attorney’s Office. He ordered the State Attorney’s Office to let the family know, no later than November 1, whether and against whom it would file an indictment.