A Palestinian detainee has been hospitalised in a critical condition after he had “undergone severe torture” in Israeli custody, his lawyer has said. Israeli media has reported that an investigation has been opened into possible wrongdoing by Israeli security officers.
Lawyer Mahmoud Hassan said on Sunday that his client, Samir Arbeed, 44, suspected of organising a deadly bombing in the occupied West Bank, is on a respirator at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital and had “suffered broken ribs and kidney failure” a day after Israel announced that Arbeed and two other suspects had been arrested.
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According to the prisoner rights’ group Addameer, after Arbeed was arrested on Wednesday, he was harshly beaten by the Israeli forces using their guns. He was then taken to the al-Mascobiyya interrogation centre in Jerusalem and an order was issued, banning him from meeting his lawyer.
The following day, Arbeed had a court session without his lawyer, Addameer said in a statement on Sunday. According to the session’s protocols, Arbeed informed the judge that he suffers from severe pain in his chest, cannot eat anything and throws up continually.
“We have no information of why Samer was not transferred immediately to the hospital and in fact his interrogation continued using torture and ill-treatment techniques … ” Addameer stated.
Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, said the man “did not feel well” during interrogation and was taken to a hospital. It gave no further details.
On Saturday evening a lawyer from Addameer was informed through a phone call from one of the interrogators that Arbeed is unconscious, on artificial respiration and in a “critical situation”.
According to Israeli media, the Shin Bet was given legal permission to use “extraordinary measures” during Arbeed’s interrogation.
Last month’s bombing had killed a teenage Israeli girl and wounded her father and brother at a spring near Dolev, an illegal settlement northwest of Jerusalem.
Israel said Arbeed and his cell, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, planned other attacks and that an additional bomb had been uncovered. They were caught in a joint operation by Shin Bet, Israeli police and the army.
Media reports say the Israeli Ministry of Justice has launched an inquiry into Arbeed’s interrogation process.
In its statement, Addameer called on the Israeli authorities to release Arbeed as confessions taken under torture and ill-treatment are illegal and cannot be used as evidence in court.
“Taking those confessions means the right to a fair trial is violated and thus the detention is arbitrary,” Addameer noted.
According to the Convention against Torture, no “exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war” can be used as a justification for torture, which includes circumstances relating to counterterrorism.
Torture amounts to a war crime under the Rome Statute and when systematic and widespread, amounts to a crime against humanity.