TEL AVIV — An Israeli court dismissed the statute of limitations as irrelevant in the case of a Jew who has been held as a suspect in a murder case by the Israel Security Agency for 21 days without formal charges.
“I am not going to relate to the question of the statute of limitations,” Petah Tikva District Court Judge Riva Sharon said at a hearing in the case of Haim Pearlman.
Pearlman was arrested on July 13 by the ISA on suspicion of murdering four Palestinians in 1998 and attempting to murder another seven Arabs for nationalistic motives.
Sharon extended Pearlman’s remand for a further six days, two days short of the 30 days allowed to detain a suspect without pressing formal charges. Police will have to obtain permission from the attorney-general if they request an extension of Pearlman’s remand beyond Aug. 11.
Defense Attorney Aharon Rozeh said that the only evidence against Pearlman relates to two old separate cases of assault against Arabs and illegal possession of a weapon.
“Through all this investigation, you [police] haven’t produced any significant evidence except in the investigation related to taking a stun grenade from an army base and hitting an Arab [minority] but they are ruled by the statute of limitations,” Rozeh said. “These are two incidents and the police do have evidence but the police are trying to connect the respondent [Pearlman] to all the 11 cases”
The ISA has arrested four people, all who know Pearlman, but all were released, including David Sitbon, questioned regarding illegal possession of firearms.
“I’m not sure these two incidents are connected to one respondent and the Supreme Court said we need judicial supervision over extending his remand,” Rozeh said. “It’s not enough to show investigative activities. This man is held in very harsh conditions and this [extension of his remand] will force him to confess to things he didn’t do.”
Pearlman said that he is being tortured by the ISA. He said that he is manacles to his chair 18 hours a day, that investigators beat him, cursed him, deprived him of sleep, forced him to stand for long periods and almost dislocated his shoulder.
“Haim is tortured physically and mentally,” his wife Keren said. “He told us that four thugs stood on him and he has a hernia. They punch him, poke their fingers in his eyes and once they pushed to the floor because he refused to stand and then lifted him up by his handcuffed arms and he felt his shoulder being pulled out of its socket. All this violence. They are frustrated.”
Ms. Pearlman said that human rights groups ignored Haim’s plight and the courts told him to file a complaint with the police unit that investigates police brutality. In a Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 1, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein asked the police representative if Pearlman’s accusations of mistreatment were true. The police representative replied that the ISA would never mistreat a suspect. “It’s against the law,” she said.
Israeljustice.com was established to document the Israeli policy to prosecute and detain peaceful protesters against the government’s policy of withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the last 18 months, the government deemed civil protesters of the expulsion of Jews from the Gaza Strip and West Bank as enemies of the state.
During the summer of 2005, police and even soldiers were used to beat and arrest hundreds of peaceful protesters. Those arrested and detained without charge for months included children as young as 12. In some cases, Israeli judges and prosecutors compared these minors to terrorists and called them the greatest danger to democracy.
Some judges said the minors would remain in detention indefinitely to teach other protesters a lesson. Others judges said they saw their jobs as “educating” those who were arrested while singing Israel’s national anthem or simply refusing police orders to leave the streets.
Israeljustice.com has been covering hearings of these protesters. In most cases, judges accepted police testimony, even when found to have been fabricated. Prosecutors sought to intimidate youngsters with indefinite detention unless they agreed to such measures as house arrest or leaving their communities in Judea and Samaria.
This is a difficult period for Israeli democracy. It is made more difficult by the apathy of most Israeli and international civil rights organizations, heavily financed by European and U.S. institutions that support Israeli withdrawal at any cost. Israeljustice.com plans to monitor and report on legal proceedings against those who exercise their democratic rights of protest in the effort to stop the eviction of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes.
For these defendants, this has been a lonely battle that has challenged their faith, love of Israel and their right to live in the land of their biblical forefathers. Israeljustice.com intends to test the commitment of Israel’s democracy to guarantee the rights of these Jews.
Israeljustice.com is an independent and non-partisan website that seeks to document the forgotten victims of Israel’s justice and political system. Israeljustice.com plans to focus on the abuses of the justice system against peaceful protesters of Israeli withdrawal. The website does not intend to justify either government policy or the cause of the protesters. We hope that Israeljustice.com will serve as a magnet and bulletin board for news and information. With G-d’s help, we hope to influence change and restore democracy and justice to the Jewish state.
“This is shocking,” Keren said. “They’ll keep him for as long as they can. All these human rights groups that worry about terrorists. Where are they?”