Police trying to hide that officer who arrested protest leader Leef is facing assault charge

Daphni Leef's lawyer says there is no reason for police to hide; court criticizes police for withholding information.

Dafni Leef 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dafni Leef 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The police on Sunday tried to hide from J14 social protest leader Daphni Leef and the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court details of an indictment against the policeman who arrested her on June 22, 2012.
The indictment is for attacking another person.
The revelation and the police’s attempts to resist divulging details regarding the indictment as being irrelevant to Leef’s case indicate a case that continues to spiral out of police control.
As a procedural question, the court on Sunday ruled in favor of the police.
Claiming that hearing the issue before the same judge could create bias against the officer even if they ultimately succeeded in keeping the indictment under wraps, the police asked that a different judge at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court hear the issue of whether they can be forced to disclose the details of the other indictment.
But the court rebuked police and noted that the procedural safeguard they were embracing was designed to protect the rights of defendants under indictment, not protect the police from disclosure of relevant facts to the court and the public.
It also all but predicted that the police would lose in front of the next judge and that Leef would have every opportunity to scrutinize the until-now concealed indictment.
Essentially, the court’s point was that incriminating evidence could not hurt the officer because the officer was not on trial in this case. Therefore, police had no grounds to claim that the indictment was prejudicial.
In contrast, the court said it could help prove Leef’s defense that she was aggressively and unreasonably targeted by showing that the officer had a history of unreasonable attacks.
Leef’s lawyer, well-known attorney Gabi Lasky, said there was “no reason for the police to hide from the public.”
The case against Leef dates back to the social protests of the summer of 2012. Leef was accused of using violence to prevent arrest, obstructing an officer and taking part in a disturbance. Police tried to cut a plea-bargain deal with her on lesser charges, which she rejected immediately on principle, professing her complete innocence.
Sunday’s bizarre hearing highlighted further the already odd case in which the State Attorney’s Office refused to indict Leef and the police hired its own counsel to do so.
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 in Tel Aviv.
The indictment alleges that while the protest organizer 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 police say severely complicated their 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 in recent memory, and she would have plenty of 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, [and] this is a much bigger strategic error.”
Other police officers involved in cracking down on the protest have been indicted or disciplined for treating protesters too roughly.