‘Severe violence, torture’ — Israeli prisoner sues Shin Bet for 5 million shekels

Amiram Ben Uliel, who was convicted of the deadly 2015 Duma arson attack, says he was severely tortured, physically and psychologically, by the Shin Bet security agency, seeks damages.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A Jewish-Israeli man who was convicted of the deadly 2015 firebombing of a Palestinian family’s home, based on a confession he made after he was tortured by the Shin Bet security agency, is suing the body for 5 million shekels ($1.4 million), his attorney announced on Tuesday morning.

Amiram Ben Uliel was sentenced to three life terms for the arson attack, which killed an 18-month-old baby and his parents in the PA-administered town of Duma. Ben Uliel was convicted primarily on the basis of a confession he gave to the Shin Bet, which he later recanted.

Ben Uliel’s attorney Menashe Yado noted that the details of the physical torture Ben Uliel allegedly endured are still under a gag order, so specifics about what happened cannot be made public.

However, Yado said, his client was subject to “severe violence.”

According to statements from Yado and portions of the lawsuit published by Hebrew-language media outlets, he suffered extended psychological and physical torture. He was shackled for hours on end and forced to spend a winter night in an unheated cell without a blanket or coat, the lawsuit said.

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The lawsuit also described torture which was specifically designed to distress Ben Uliel by taking advantage of his religiosity.

He was allegedly sexually harassed by a female Shin Bet agent, who touched his body against his will, knowing that as an observant Jew, Ben Uliel refrains from any physical contact with women who are not his wife or immediate family members.

He was also said to have been forced to listen to hours of women singing – which Orthodox Jews consider forbidden.

Ben Uliel has said he was severely tortured for two days before giving a statement saying he was involved in the crime – a claim which Israel’s Supreme Court later acknowledged was true, but it ruled that the torture did not constitute sufficient grounds to overturn his conviction.

The Court also determined that his coerced confession was still admissible in court.

Ben Uliel’s conviction has raised concerns among prominent legal scholars, including Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, an attorney and expert in Israeli law.

“I don’t know whether Amiram Ben Uliel perpetrated the Duma murder or not,” Rothman wrote on Twitter shortly after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal in September 2022.

However, he wrote, “I know that a system of justice, which approves confessions given after torture, is not fit to be called a just system.”

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