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Monday, 28 January 2008

No cops will be indicted for killing non-Jewish protestors

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Sunday that he would not indict the police officers involved in the deaths of 13 Arab civilians during the riots of October 2000.

Mazuz released an official legal opinion Sunday, reinforcing a decision made by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department (PID) in September 2005 to close the investigation into the case.

Israeli Arabs were rioting in solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada which had just begun in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During the riots, which lasted some ten days, 12 Israeli Arabs and one Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip were shot and killed by police and security forces during violent demonstrations at the entrance to Umm al-Fahm.

In his official report, Mazuz said that in addition to many evidentiary problems that stem from the long period of time that has passed since the incident, "we had to take into consideration the fact that the incident involved the use of operational judgment in an emergency situation, under circumstances that don't justify the casting of criminal blame, as opposed to the taking of command procedures."

Mazuz added to the document he released a report written by the state prosecution team, headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, which details over 500 pages the evidence gathered in the case and the difficulties that arose over the course of the investigation. The team, which included five attorneys, dedicated its efforts over thousands of hours to the examination of evidence and reports compiled by the Or Commission, which was appointed to investigate the riots. Dozens of meetings were held, some attended by the attorney general.

The release of the official ruling on the proceedings in the case was delayed by approximately one year, after the The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which is considered a complainant in the matter, submitted a report in late 2006 to the State Prosecution in which it claimed that PID has ignored the recommendations of the Or Commission by failing to investigate the deaths. The report called for the immediate prosecution of the officers involved. More