TEL AVIV — In a case that has highlighted the recruitment and interrogation techniques of the Israeli Security Agency and its corroboration with the justice system, an Israeli court rejected an appeal by police against releasing a Jewish suspect in an Arab murder case who was held for 30 days without formal charges.
In a hearing on Aug. 12, Petah Tikva District Court Vice President Avraham Tal upheld the earlier decision of Petah Tikva Magistrate Nahum Sternlicht to release Chaim Pearlman to house arrest after police failed to recommend an indictment at the end of 30 days imprisonment.
Police reneged on their former request to keep Pearlman in custody despite the approval from the attorney-general’s office, necessary to extend the 30 days remand. Instead, police asked for 30 days house arrest but Tal ordered Pearlman to be released to 15 days house arrest, more than doubling Sternlict’s order of seven days. However, the judge accepted the police demand to impose on Pearlman a 45-day ban on all communications with anyone connected with the case.
“We’ll appeal to the Supreme Court,” Chaim Pearlman’s attorney Adi Kedar said. “If there’s no evidence, he should go free.”
Kedar said Pearlman, 30, suspected of the nationalistically-motivated murder of four Arabs in Jerusalem in the 1990s and attempt to murder seven more, was justified in his refusal to cooperate with the Israel Security Agency.
“Chaim Pearlman utilized his right to remain silent. This doesn’t weaken or strengthen his case,” Kedar said. “They [ISA] wanted him to confess. They didn’t expect him to supply an explanation [an alibi].”
Kedar said that the ISA did not act out of pure security considerations in the case of Pearlman and he said that the Pearlman case would make it more difficult to recruit people for the ISA in the future.
“They [ISA] are not concerned with security, only with their own honor,” Kedar said. “In every case when they suspect someone, they say we’ve apprehended him but they don’t have any evidence yet. This must end.”
Pearlman, a resident of Givat Washington in southern Israel, was released into the custody of his parents who live in the Jewish community of Tekoa in eastern Gush Etzion.
Pearlman was arrested on July 13 after a serious of meetings with ISA agents when he allegedly “boasted” about himself as the 1990s “serial stabber” of Arabs. After 30 days in ISA custody, police had no other evidence in the case despite the fact that Pearlman had been manacled to his chair for 18 hours a day. Pearlman also said that he was regularly beaten and verbally abused.
Pearlman was also denied the right to meet with his attorney for two weeks by the court.
One of the judges who ruled to refuse Pearlman the right to an attorney after his arrest was Avraham Tal.
At the outset of the hearing, Kedar asked the judge to remove himself from the remand appeal but Tal refused.
“There is nothing in the accusations that I was influenced in any form by the police or any other body,” Tal said.
Pearlman’s wife Keren said she was appalled at the lack of help from human rights groups in her husband’s case but said that ultimately all decisions were in the hands of Gd.
“Thank Gd,” Ms. Pearlman said after the court hearing. “I think this was very clear and I’m not at all shocked. There’s a Judge up above. He is the one who decides about everything and he judges today, not Avraham Tal and not anyone else. Only the Almighty Blessed Be He.”