State asks High Court for one more hearing in Dirani case

Last month, court upheld ruling allowing convicted terrorist to sue state for damages.

Dirani_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Civil Department of the State Prosecutor’s office filed a petition on Tuesday to the Supreme Court requesting an additional hearing over a ruling last month that permits Lebanese terrorist Mustafa Dirani to sue the state.
In a controversial ruling last month, the Supreme Court upheld a decision made by the Tel Aviv District Court allowing Dirani to continue with his NIS 6 million damages suit against the state.
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Dirani, a former leader of Lebanese terrorist group Amal, was believed to have had personal knowledge of the whereabouts of kidnapped IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad. Amal forces captured Arad in October 1986 during a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon in Lebanon.
In 1994, then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered Israeli commandos to raid Dirani’s house. The terrorist leader was brought to Israel and held in administrative detention.
In 2000, Dirani filed a NIS 6 million suit in the Tel Aviv District Court, charging that interrogators had raped him, sodomized him with a club, kept him naked for weeks and humiliated him in an effort to extract information about Arad’s whereabouts.
Dirani was released in 2004 as part of a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, despite a lawsuit by Arad’s family to try to prevent his release. In return, Hezbollah returned the bodies of three IDF soldiers killed by Hezbollah in October 2000 and kidnapped Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum.
Dirani had announced his intention to continue to work for Hezbollah on his return to Lebanon, and the state appealed to the Tel Aviv District Court, asking for Dirani’s lawsuit to be canceled.
However, in 2005 the Tel Aviv District Court rejected the state’s request to cancel the lawsuit, and the state appealed to the Supreme Court.
The state had argued that Israel should act in accordance with Anglo-American law, which prohibits an enemy of the state residing in a hostile country from suing the state.
However, in a hearing last month, Supreme Court judges Ayala Procaccia, Salim Jubran and Hanan Meltser ruled to uphold the lower court’s decision to allow Dirani to continue with his lawsuit.
In their judgement, the justices wrote that in cases of alleged human rights violations by the state, it is “justified that the issue will be clarified before the state’s law courts.” The judges went on to write that: “This statement is right also in regard to opening the courts’ doors to hostile parties in order to hear their claims regarding damages caused to their rights by state authorities.
This is not a danger to the state’s power, but is actually a guarantee of its moral and ethical strength.”
According to reports, Dirani’s lawyer, Zvi Rish, said the Supreme Court’s ruling was “in line with Israel’s values.”
As a result of the ruling, Dirani can now continue with his lawsuit – even though he remains in Lebanon.
In the state’s petition Tuesday, state attorneys Orit Son and Na’ami Zemeret wrote that the Supreme Court’s ruling that the courts should “clarify claims made by an enemy” has “serious implications regarding an enemy’s claims in any legal proceedings and against any litigant.”
“To allow an enemy of the state located outside the state’s borders to use legal processes as a weapon against the state, is difficult, novel and damages the sense of justice,” wrote the state prosecutor.
“Moreover, by hearing civil suits that will not result in any compensation may even undermine the court’s role to resolve disputes.”
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling last month, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, an NGO that works through the courts system for social change, also submitted a petition requesting an additional hearing in the Dirani case, to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
In the petition to Weinstein, lawyer Yitzhak Bam of the Legal Forum slammed the Supreme Court’s ruling as “hard, novel and absurd.”
“On the one hand, Dirani can take up arms and fight in the ranks of Hezbollah, and on the other he can send lawyers to Israeli courts and sue the country he fought against – illegally and in violation of international law – for acts that allegedly occurred when he was in an Israeli prison,” said Bam.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.