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Photo: Yesha Council's human rights watch
Senior Border Guard officer faces damages suit
Yesha Council pursues legal action against Brig.-Gen. Shlomi Even-Paz for allegedly attacking photographer during incident at former settlement of Homesh. Suit filed after police decide to subject officer to mere disciplinary action

The Yesha Council's human rights' branch filed a damages suit against Brigadier-General Shlomi Even-Paz, who heads the Border Guard Command in Judea and Samaria, earlier in the week.

 

According to the suit, filed with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Even-Paz attacked a photographer who was documenting the interaction between Border Guard forces and right-wing activists who were trying to re-settle the West Bank settlement of Homesh; ordered his soldiers to capture the camera and proceeded to destroy the camera's memory card.

 

The suit further details that Even-Paz was caught on tape yelling to his troops to "break their (the settlers) arms and legs."

 

The photographer called the Yesha Council's human rights' branch while at the scene and the latter then filed an official complaint with the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).

 

The camera's owner, Limor Har-Melech Sun, also filed a compliant against the officer, citing that the memory card he destroyed had priceless photographs of her newborn son – the namesake of her first husband, who was murdered in a terror attack – on it.

 

Some six months after the incident, the IAB announced it would take disciplinary action against Brigadier-General Even-Paz, for conduct unbecoming an officer. The Yesha Council's human rights' branch subsequently announced they would appeal the decision, offering into evidence a copy of the IAB report, in which they claim Even-Paz admitted the assault.

 

"How can the case be dismissed for 'lack of evidence,' when there is a clear admission of guilt noted in the case-file?" wrote attorney Haim Cohen, the Yesha Council's legal counsel in his appeal to IAB. The latter then decided to refer the case to the State Prosecutor's Office Appeal Division.

 

The Yesha Council then decided to pursue legal recourse and filed a damages suit with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court; demanding Even-Paz pay restitution to those affected by his actions.

 

The said restitution, said the suit, "should express the superior value of one's right to his person, dignity and property."

 

The Border Guard Command offered the following comment: "Brigadier-General Even-Paz is currently occupied with the ongoing riots in the town of Naalin (near the West Bank city of Ramallah) and will respond to all the accusation in court of law." 

 

Meanwhile, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz not to grant Even-Paz a state-funded legal defense.

 

Eldad cited that Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, had already stipulated that police officers have no right to take cameras or memory cards from photographers, in order to prevent future use of footage which documents police violence.

 

MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party) added that "the police must purge itself from corrupt officers the links of Even-Paz," adding he too will demand that Mazuz deny the officer any state-funded defense.

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.01.08, 08:18
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