Peres. Should not be grading Mazuz's performance
Photo: A,os Ben Gershom, GPO
Mazuz. Won't launch criminal proceedings
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Peres backs Mazuz's decision to close October riots case

Addressing attorney general's decision not to indict policemen involved in riots that left 12 Israeli Arabs and one Palestinian dead, president says, 'It appears that there was not enough evidence from a legal point of view'

President Shimon Peres on Monday backed Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's decision not to launch legal proceedings against the policemen involved in the October 2000 riots, which left 12 Israeli Arabs and one Palestinian dead.


"I don't believe that he was trying to cover up something. It appears that there was not enough evidence from a legal point of view," Peres said during a tour of the northern city of Nazareth.


Peres said that he was aware of the Arab public's anger and asked not to address the issue. However, after being pressured by reporters, he said that "every country has a judiciary which makes independent decisions. I should not be grading Mazuz's performance."


Peres' visit to the city was scheduled several months ago. Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy said, "I regret the fact that this visit is taking place one day after the unfortunate decision to close the case, which has led to feeling of anger and fury among the entire Arab sector."


According to Jaraisy, "The Police Investigation Unit's investigations were sloppy and led to the closing of the case. Due to the public sensitivity, this matter should have been brought to court."


The president visited Upper Nazareth, the White Mosque, and the Church of the Annunciation. About 10 protestors stood outside the church holding signs reading "Genocide" and "Keep your city clean of war criminals".


Peres visited the north along with Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, whose company plans to invest $3 million in computing systems for churches, mosques, schools and hospitals in Nazareth and Upper Nazareth.


"The project has improved the relations between Nazareth and Upper Nazareth and will generate new relations," the president said.


Israeli Arabs furious

Mazuz decided Sunday 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.


"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.


Mazuz's decision raised ire among Arab Knesset members and local leaders, as well as left-wing activists.


Hassan Jabareen, the general director of Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Arab Rights in Israel, said in a press conference that his organization would appeal to international bodies and foreign countries for help since "the Israeli government did not take any steps against those who carried out the crimes."


Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Chairman Shawki Khatib said in response to the ruling that "it’s a dark day for justice, human rights and the aspiration of Israeli Arabs to live respectfully among nations."


Khatib recommended that members initiate protest measures including a strike of the Arab sector and appealing to international bodies.


פרסום ראשון: 01.28.08, 13:12
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