The Lod District Court on Thursday ruled that testimony by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operatives about allegations of torturing defendants in the Duma Jewish terror trial will remain permanently sealed.
While the ruling was a rejection of Yediot Aharonot’s motion to lift the seal in light of findings that the defendants’ treatment harmed the admissibility aspects of their confessions, the court did grant part of the motion by opening the remainder of the trial to the press.
The prosecution issued a statement the court had accepted its compromise position on the Shin Bet’s activities and transparency issues.
Yediot and the defendants had hoped a mid-July ruling by the Supreme Court would pave the way for greater transparency about defendant treatment by the Shin Bet. In that ruling, the court ordered the underage Jewish defendant accused of terrorism in Duma to be released to house arrest.
The decision regarding the Shin Bet and transparency for the ongoing trial comes two and a half years after the defendant’s arrest and after the Shin Bet used enhanced interrogation on him.
In June, the same court declared that much of the evidence against him regarding Duma was tainted because of the harshness of the interrogation.
The young defendant is still under house arrest indefinitely, as there are other crimes he is still accused of and the prosecution maintains it may still be able to convict him as a secondary-role player in planning the July 2015 Duma arson murders of three members of the Dawabshe family.
In mid-June, the Lod District Court confirmed that key confessions of the central adult defendant in the Duma case were valid and gave the prosecution a strong chance to convict, while it disqualified key confessions provided by the case’s younger defendant.
That mixed blockbuster decision had – and will have – far-reaching consequences, and disqualified some of the confessions of the main defendant during, and 36 hours after, enhanced interrogation was used on him.
The Justice Ministry and the Shin Bet have a strong lead toward convicting the main defendant, Amiram Ben-Uliel.
Regarding the minor, the June decision meant that while he will likely face convictions for lesser price tag attacks, he has a strong chance of acquittal from the Duma case.
The July 2015 arson terrorist attack – which killed Palestinians Sa’ad, Riham and Ali Dawabshe in Duma – and the Shin Bet’s admitted enhanced interrogations of the two Jewish defendants, created convulsions in the region and within the Israeli political establishment.