Officers after arrest
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Abu Najma. Arrested for theft
Photo: Ofer Amram
Policemen accused of abusing a Palestinian thief from Hebron have been cleared of charges due to lack of evidence, the Police Investigations Unit said Wednesday.
Though the Justice Ministry believed the complainant's account of severe physical violence used against him by 10 officers, just four were originally indicted, and the charges against three have since been dropped. On Wednesday, the unit also dropped charges against the final remaining indicted officer.
The affair was first made public by Ynet in January 2010. A'alan Abu Najma, a 27-year old man from Hebron, was arrested in the end of 2009 for stealing an expensive motorcycle in order to blackmail its owner.
Abu Najma claimed he was attacked by the arresting officers. "A gun barrel was pushed into my behind, trash was poured over me, a rag smeared with excrement was placed on my head, and I was urinated on," he claimed.
Tensions peaked after 10 officers were arrested and Yarkon District Police Commander Chico Edri defended them, saying he believed their account. At the time, investigators discovered discrepancies in the officers' testimonies.
Four officers were indicted on suspicion of abusing a helpless person, sexual harassment, assault and breach of trust. In the summer the charges against three were dropped, with the Justice Ministry accusing detection and special forces teams of attempting to transfer blame to one another.
"During the investigation the officers refused to cooperate with interrogators to help arrive at the truth while still in the early stages of the probe," the ministry said, declaring that its investigators believed the complainant was telling the truth.
Gil Shilan, an officer from the Yarkon District Police force, was the last remaining indicted officer. He was placed on forced leave.
But during preliminary court hearings Shilan's attorneys succeeded in undermining the prosecution's case, which relied mainly on the fact that Abu Najma had picked Shilan out of a lineup as the man who had beaten him.
The trial had been scheduled to begin this month, but Shilan's attorneys succeeded in convincing the head of the Police Investigations Unit that there was not enough evidence to continue with the case.
Attorney Zion Amir said he was pleased the charges had been dropped. "We were sure all along that Gil Shilan had been wronged. He is an excellent officer, and I am glad that after this year-long battle he can return to serve in the police force. If he had been convicted he would have gone to prison for a very long time," he said.
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