Forty-six million shekels, the biggest suit ever filed in an
Israeli court against the State of Israel. This is the
amount of the suit filed by four plaintiffs who sat in jail
for many long years after having committed no crime.
Their story goes back more than two decades, to a time when
the entire country was shaken up by a series of arson
attacks against newspapers and public institutions in Tel
Aviv. Israel Police received an order to capture those
responsible for the crimes at any price, before a real
revolt broke out. The police, pumped with motivation,
arrested four Israelis suspected of committing the offenses.
After they denied all ties to the incidents, the police
investigators were given orders to do whatever necessary to
extract a confession from them.
Israel Police know exactly what that means, and they
succeeded in forcing the requested confession from the four
suspects, and later, during the trial, they brought in false
testimony and evidence and lied through their teeth. The
court convicted the foursome and sentenced them to long
years behind bars.
Two years ago the conscience of one of the police officers
involved in the affair compelled him to admit in public that
all of the confessions were wrung out of the four convicts
through brute force and harsh abuse. He said the
investigators received orders to extract confessions out of
them through any means, and they carried out the order to a
tee. The court opened up the investigation file and
acquitted the four prisoners of all charges.
After spending 3-10 years of their lives in jail, they were
not satisfied with the paltry compensation awarded by the
court, and are now suing the state for 40 million shekels.
They say all the money in the world cannot bring back the
years stolen from them by the State, but that State
authorities have to be made aware that such deeds carry a
heavy price tag. Some of the police officers still serve on
the police force, and have not had to face any
investigations for their involvement in this serious
In another police scandal, a cassette that was recorded
accidentally by several police investigators, and which
includes accounts of grave acts against suspects, has been
circulating around the Tel Aviv police force. Like all other
tales of Chelm, here as well, a group of policemen sat
around talking, each one bragging of his daring deeds and
his successes in extracting confessions out of all sorts of
suspects. Meanwhile they failed to notice that one of their
colleagues' listening devices had been left on.
As if that was not enough, the officer to whom the listening
device belonged, who was involved in another investigation,
sent the material evidence from his investigation to the
state attorney with cassettes from the investigation. He did
not notice that the incriminating recording containing all
of his and his colleagues' atrocious tales was also included
among the other recordings. The prosecutor who received the
material discovered the fascinating cassette and passed it
on to the department for internal police investigations. Now
police investigators are trying to ascertain whether their
conduct was in keeping with the accepted standards of
democratic nations with respect for human rights.