Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has decided not to file an indictment for slander against director of the film "Jenin, Jenin" Mohammed Bakri. The official statement was issued Tuesday following recent reports of Mazuz's promise to reach a decision by the end of his term.
Although he decided against filing charges, Mazuz is expected to appear at a hearing on the appeal regarding the matter in the Supreme Court, which was filed by representatives of the soldiers and bereaved families of the battle in Jenin as part of a civil suit.
"After comprehensively reviewing the issue, I have decided by force of my authority to attend the appeal on the district court's decision in the civil suit against Mohammed Bakri and take a stand according to which the court made a mistake in rejecting the slander lawsuit and that under the circumstances, the fighters have a personal right to file a lawsuit and that therefore their appeal should be granted," Mazuz wrote.
He further noted that he didn’t find grounds for taking criminal procedures against Bakri according to the slander prohibition law.
First screened in 2002, the documentary "Jenin Jenin" asserts that the IDF committed atrocious war crimes and deliberately slaughtered innocent civilians during Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank town. Following the screening, the reservists filed suit for defamation against both Bakri and the cinematheques that screened his films to the tune of NIS 2.5 million ($660,000).
Mazuz's statement suggested certain criticism on the court's decision of allowing the screening of the film despite the State's endorsement of the decision to prohibit it by the film censorship council.
Mazuz's stance indicates that pursuing legal action against Bakri would only increase interest in the film's screening and may be perceived as a violation of freedom of expression.
The attorney general repeated his recommendation to the representatives of the soldiers and bereaved families of filing a private criminal lawsuit and waiving the slander suit.