Parents: They are good kids
Photo: Mati Almaliach

Brothers accused of igniting fire released

Court releases siblings aged 14, 16 from Usfiya suspected of causing Carmel fire, despite remand

The Haifa District Court released Monday two siblings arrested on suspicion they ignited the huge fire that ravaged the Carmel forest this weekend, less than 24 hours after the remand of their arrests.


The court accepted the appeals filed by the two teens from Usfiya, aged 14 and 16, against the remand.


The two are charged with negligence leading to death and fire, but at the hearing on their appeal the judge said he had chosen to be lenient because of the limited evidence presented as well as their status as minors.


Parents and family members vehemently denied the teens had been involved in the fire from the moment of their arrests, calling them "good kids". Their father has accused his neighbors of causing the blaze and framing his sons.


The teens were arrested over the weekend. They are suspected of neglecting to put out a fire they had ignited, thus bringing about the deaths of 42 people and torching of thousands of acres of forest, including millions of trees.


"They came and took them from their home, as though they were terrorists and not two boys awaiting their enlistment (to the IDF)," their father said. "They had no connection to the fire and they didn't even know about it. One of them was sleeping, and the other was in school."


He went on to blame his neighbors for framing the boys. "I stand beside them and will continue to do so," he insisted.


Their mother has come forth with an alibi for the two, claiming that they were in school when the fire erupted at 11 am. She criticized the police for harassing her son on his 16th birthday. "I am very angry at the special forces. They used force against my sons," she said.


Their attorney, Visaf Araf, claimed police had neglected to share evidence with the defense and insulted his clients.


"The mother wanted to give her son shoes but one of the officers told her to shut up. From there they were taken for an interrogation that lasted for hours on end. The law permits a family member to be with them during questioning, but police chose to ignore this," he said.


Head of the Usfiya Council Waji Cayouf addressed the allegations that Usfiya residents started the fires: "It is impossible that each day brings a new person to blame for the fires. First they say the dumpster is responsible for the fire even though the fire never made it to the dumpster.


"Then they say that there are four different arsonists at four spots, and then they say the Usfiya youths are guilty. You can't find a new scapegoat every time. This must be said – this is all conjecture. People shouldn't constantly try and stir up the situation."


Yet he also said that "in a joint initiative with the Education Ministry and the local council, the local schools would add an additional two hours of curriculum that will focus on environmental studies", in order to increase environmental awareness in the area.



פרסום ראשון: 12.06.10, 12:04
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