Adalah to Israeli court: “Appoint investigatory judge to examine death of Palestinian bedouin”

Today, 16 October 2003, Adalah filed a motion to the Magistrate Court in Beer Sheva (Beer el-Sebe) to immediately appoint an investigatory judge to examine the circumstances surrounding the unnatural death of Mr. Meteb Al-Nebari, a Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel. The motion was submitted on behalf of Mr. Atwa Mohammed Al-Nebari, the deceased’s brother, pursuant to Article 19 of the Investigation into Circumstances of Death Law (1958). Adalah Attorneys Marwan Dalal and Morad El-Sana filed the motion.

On 14 October 2003, the Israeli police notified Mr. Al-Nebari’s family that the Israeli army, at the Hebron District Coordination Office (DCO), was holding the deceased’s body, and they requested that family members travel to Hebron to identify the body. According to a police report received by Adalah, Mr. Al-Nebari died in the West Bank during the night of 13-14 October 2003: “An event took place near Negohot [a Jewish settlement] in the West Bank during which the person died.” Mr. Al-Nebari’s family went to the Hebron DCO and identified the deceased; he was buried that evening in his hometown of Tel Sheva (Tel el-Sebe). The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown.

In the motion, Adalah argued that the appointment of an investigatory judge is required in this case in order to examine the true circumstances surrounding the Mr. Al-Nebari’s death. The severe injuries to Mr. Al-Nebari’s body, Adalah argued, constitute probable cause to believe that his death was unnatural and/or caused by an offense committed against him, and thus, in accordance with the law, the appointment of an investigatory judge is mandated. According to an affidavit obtained by Adalah and submitted to the Court from an individual who cleaned and prepared Mr. Al-Nebari’s body for burial, the deceased had a large number of serious injuries including wounds and burns to his leg and shoulder, which nearly caused the severing of these limbs. He also had head injuries and two or three bullet wounds in his stomach. In his affidavit, the individual further stated that: “I would like to note that I have seen bullet injuries before this case, and I know what a regular bullet wound or injury looks like. The injuries on the deceased’s body are not only regular wounds caused by shooting but it seems that these types of injuries are from a much larger weapon.”

Adalah also requested that the Court order that Mr. Al-Nebari’s body be exhumed and that a reliable autopsy be conducted to determine the true cause of death: “Many findings relating to the cause of death of the deceased may be damaged or disappear if the requested order is not granted.” In requesting that an immediate hearing and investigation be ordered, Adalah stated that: “The time factor is important in order to honor the deceased and his family. The longer the investigation is postponed the pain and suffering of the family of the deceased will increase. Delaying the investigation, exhumation and reliable autopsy will leave the deceased’s family in a state of uncertainty and anxiety.”

The Court has ordered the Southern District State Attorney’s Office to respond to the motion by tomorrow morning.