State Attorney Denies Use of Torture; Israel to Try Soldiers for Beating Elderly Arab to Death

State Attorney Gabriel Bach strongly denied charges that Israeli security agents deliberately torture Arab political prisoners under interrogation and assailed a report to that effect published recently in the Sunday Times of London. But Bach, addressing foreign correspondents here, admitted that “such things may occasionally happen”.

He also disclosed that a dozen Israeli soldiers would be brought to trial shortly for alleged involvement in the death of an elderly Arab resident of Nablus, Ahmed Dahloul, who was arrested for questioning in March, 1976 in connection with disturbances on the West Bank. He said the prosecution brief was in preparation.

Dahloul died after he was taken into custody for allegedly inciting anti-Israel riots. The cause of death was initially listed as heart attack but investigations showed that he had been beaten to death. Bach said that until now only the officer in command of the unit had been tried. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison and stripped of his Major’s rank.

But subsequently, evidence came to light involving 12 soldiers, Bach said. He also disclosed that his office was preparing to prosecute six Arab inmates of the Nablus jail who allegedly “interrogated, tried” and severely beat four fellow inmates to find out if they had “cooperated” with police. He showed newsmen photos of one of the four exhibiting extensive bruises.

Bach denounced the Sunday Times report as “tendentious, vicious and definitely unfounded”. He stressed that Israel’s military courts were as punctilious as civilian courts and therefore with out bias against Arab defendants. He noted that the presiding military judges were usually reserve officers who practice law in civilian life “and are therefore fully imbued with the sense of natural justice.”

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