Ben Zygier

'Prisoner X' report points to IPS failures

Judge Blatman Kedrai says Ben Zygier used bed sheet to hang himself in cell's toilet, adds evidence suggests Prison Service members were at fault; denies motion to close case

A report penned by Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai about the circumstances that led to the death of Ben Zygier says that there is evidence to suggest that failures by members of the Israel Prison Service caused his death.


The judge agreed to publish parts of the report following a petition filed by media outlets with the Rishon Lezion Magistrates' Court. The report said that Zygier, also known as "Prisoner X" used a bed sheet to hang himself at his cell's toilet.


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Judge Blatman Kedrai said, "I have found evidence allegedly suggesting the fault of elements in the Israel Prison Service."


On December 15, 2010 at 8:19 Ben Zygier was found hanged in the shower in his cell with a bed sheet attached to the cell's window. Judge Blatman Kedrai said that based on the autopsy, his death was likely caused by asphyxiation.


Addressing the duties placed on prison guards, she said, "they are many and difficult to carry out. The duties placed on the IPS in connection to the deceased were particularly complex given the cloak of secrecy, gaps in information and compartmentalization.


"Nevertheless, orders to prevent suicide were given and the elements entrusted with guarding the prisoner were aware of them. These orders were not upheld and a 'window of opportunity' was used by the deceased to commit suicide."


The State's position on the implications of the post-mortem report on Zygier's death is that the case should be closed without determining culpability. However, Judge Blatman Kedrai determined that in light of the evidence, the blame must be placed on members of the Israel Prison Service and the case should not be closed.


State: No criminal offence

After the investigation was over the State claimed that the probe should be closed since the investigation didn't reveal his death was due to a criminal offence.


Conversely, Zygier's family argued that according to the investigation a series of failures led to negligent manslaughter.


The State said in response that the investigation's findings at most indicate defects in the IPS's conduct regarding Zygier's supervision, in consideration of the special circumstances of the affair.


The State claimed that no causal link can be drawn between the failures and Zygier's death and that at most they can be studied for the future, but they are not criminal in nature.


In her report, the judge noted that Zygier's death, according to Doctor Ricardo Nachman's report, was the result of asphyxiation caused by a noose being tightened around his neck.


The expert noted that some bruises were not instrumental in his death, and neither was a small quantity of tranquilizers found in his blood.


Regarding the bruises, the doctor said it could not be ascertained whether they were caused before or after the death.


All sides agreed on the cause of death during the investigation.


IPS Director Aharon Franco responded to the report by saying that the "duties on IPS elements with regards to the deceased were difficult and complex, particularly in light of the veil of secrecy and the discrepancy in the information provided."


Franco said Zygier was represented by a number of lawyers and met with them frequently, adding that the prisoner was in constant contact with his family.


The story has dominated headlines in Israel for the past week. According to Australian media, Zygier worked for Israel's Mossad spy agency and was mysteriously imprisoned by Israel in 2010 for unspecified security offenses.


Israel kept the case under wraps for more than two years, acknowledging it last week only 24 hours after Australian ABC broke the story.


Raanan Ben-Zur, AP contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 02.19.13, 15:32
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