RAMALLAH, May 26 (JNews) - Israeli citizen and human rights defender Ameer Makhoul was permitted to see his lawyers after 17 May when the prohibition on meeting them was finally lifted.
He has provided them with testimony regarding the methods of his interrogation and conditions of detention. According to the lawyers, these may amount to torture or ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ under the UN Convention Against Torture.
Makhoul, arrested on 6 May, had been denied his right to a lawyer for 11 days, in the course of which he was held in isolation and interrogated by members of the Israeli Security Agency (shin bet or shabac, Israel’s secret police).
Permission for Makhoul to see his lawyers was only granted after they declared they would not participate in a Court hearing on 17 May while the prohibition remained.
Makhoul’s legal defense team, Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein and Adalah Attorneys Orna Kohn and Hassan Jabareen, have obtained a detailed affidavit from Makhoul containing precise details of the interrogation methods used against him.
According to them, Makhoul was trembling and apathetic throughout their meeting with him, and his skin showed patches of discolouration. Further disclosure is not possible under the gag order in force regarding both conditions of detention and interrogation methods used.
An appeal made by Adalah, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and PHR-Israel on Sunday 23 May to lift the gag order was rejected by the Court on Tuesday.
In a press release, rights group Adalah stressed that Makhoul’s testimony regarding these matters does not fall within the grounds for the gag order, which relate to obstruction of the investigation and prevention of harm to state security.
Prison authorities confirmed to the legal team that Makhoul had been seen by a doctor twice in the course of his interrogation.
Despite requests by both the legal team and rights group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) to see his medical documents these have not been disclosed. Nor has permission to send an independent doctor to visit Makhoul been granted. The Israel Prisons Service (IPS) claims that permission can only be given by the shabac, which has failed so far to respond to these requests.
No formal charge has been laid against Makhoul. There are only general allegations by the shabac regarding suspicions of contact with a foreign agent and espionage for the Lebanese group Hizballah
In a hearing at the Petah Tiqva District Court on Tuesday, the State Prosecutor announced that an indictment will be filed against him ‘soon.’
Meanwhile, he remains defined as a ‘security detainee’ and as such he is held in isolation and subject to an interrogation which the police and shabac are exempt from recording fully. He is still prohibited from meeting his family and has no right to make a telephone call or send a letter.
In a related case, the Court has extended the detention of Dr. Omar Sa’id until Thursday, 27 May, when he is expected to be indicted on the charge of contact with a foreign agent. The gag order on both cases is scheduled to be lifted at noon the same day.