Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Sunday not to indict the police officers involved in the October 2000 riots, which left 13 Israeli Arabs dead.
Mazuz decided to accept the
State's Prosecutor's Office stand saying that the State sees no reason to overturn the Police Internal Affairs Bureau's decision in the matter, which said there was not enough evidence to warrant an indictment.
Mazuz's review of
the IAB decision was made after the police's decision not to press charges against any of the officers involved in the violence sparked a harsh reaction in the Israeli Arab sector.
Insufficient evidence. The rioting at Umm al-Fahm (Archive photo: Yariv Katz)
"It is disturbing and regretful that 13 people were killed in this event, but nevertheless, the criminal law has strict evidentiary and criminal responsibility guidelines," said Mazuz in a statement.
"Once all the evidence were compiled and reviewed, including material gathered by the Or Commission and the Police Internal Affairs Bureau, we found no evidence supporting criminal charges against any of the officers involved. Therefore I have to recourse but to declare the case closed."
The Or Commission,
stressed Mazuz "only pointed out the suspects and its suspicions regarding different events recommending a criminal investigation be opened in their matter; but providing no proof of any criminal action per se."
The attorney general, however, did not close the case in its entirety: "There are two incidents that still need some further investigation, entailing the exhumation an autopsy of several of the deceased bodies, which may allow the recovery of the bullets and the ballistics comparison between them and the confiscated firearms.
"There is no guarantee that such a procedure will results in an indictment of any kind," added Mazuz saying that given the uncertain circumstances, the Prosecutor's Office saw no need to violate the families wishes by ordering the bodies exhumed against thier will.
In 2003, the Or Commission ruled that both the government and the police failed to handle the October 2000 riots properly. The commission's report slammed then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, but did not recommend any operative step in his matter.
The Or commission found then-Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben Ami from at fault, ordering he never serve in that ministerial capacity again; and rendering similar recommendations in regards to then-Police Commissioner Yehuda Vilek and Commander Alik Ron.
The commission further recommended the police dismiss Brigadier-General Moshe Veldman and Superintendent Guy Reif.