23 Av 5765, Sunday, August 28, 2005 8:35 IST |
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Border policemen get 8 months in jail

An Israeli border policeman who forced a Palestinian to lick a pool of urine and then to jump out of a second story window was sentenced Thursday to eight months in jail by the Jerusalem District Court, in the latest in a series of abuse cases involving the border police.

A second border policeman involved in the case was ordered to do four months of community service.

The relatively light sentences handed down in the latest abuse case followed a plea bargain the two border policemen reached with the state attorney's office.

The two border policemen, Robert Schneider, 21 and Yossi Moshiashvili, 20, were part of a group of five border policemen convicted in the same court for beating, abusing, and otherwise degrading two Palestinians they arrested in the seam line West Bank town of Abu Dis last year.

According to the charge sheet, the Palestinians were taken to an abandoned hotel which served as a border police post, where they were separately beaten, threatened at gunpoint, and forced to jump out of a second story window. One of the Palestinians was even forced to pick up his Israeli identity card with his mouth from a puddle of urine. The two victims were then released.

Although obligated by the plea bargain reached with the state's attorney office, Judge Ya'acov Tsaban did not hide his disdain and absolute revulsion for the "severe, despicable and humiliating" actions of the five border policemen.

"It is difficult to describe a more humiliating degradation than dipping a person's face and mouth in urine. Over this disgraceful act one cannot forgive, and it is hard to forget," he wrote in his stinging 11-page ruling.

The five border policemen were arrested in September after the Palestinians filed a complaint with the police.

Two other border policemen in the unit were previously sentenced to 7.5-14.5 months in jail respectively, while the fifth has not yet been sentenced.

The trial of the border policemen was the latest in a series of border police abuse cases involving Palestinians.

Last month, three other border policemen were sentenced to similar jail terms in a separate abuse case.

With their 24-hour patrols along the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, the border police routinely come into contact - and friction - with Palestinians on a daily basis.

The defendants in the latest case cited stress, their friend's death in Palestinian terror attacks, and physical and emotional exhaustion as motives for their actions.

But Judge Tsaban said that as law enforcement officials their deeds were even more severe since they willfully exploited their authority in attacking their two victims without reason.

"Soldiers and law enforcement officials must know that even in periods similar to war, such as the one we are in today, it is their duty to retain the humanity within them," he wrote.

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