Suspect Cleared in the Latrun Monastery Arson Case

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arsonMoshe Auerbach, a 22 year old resident of a Shomron hilltop community was informed earlier this week that the investigative case opened against him on suspicion of involvement with vandalism and arson in the Latrun Monastery incident of September, 2012 has been closed by the police due to lack of evidence.

On Tuesday, September 4, 2012, graffiti reading “Price Tag – Migron” was found of the walls of the Latrun Monastery. There was also an attempt to set one of the doors of the monastery on fire. The police suspected that the act was a “price tag” incident in response to the then recent evacuation of Migron, a community in the Binyamin region. Due to the content and phrasing of the graffiti many people questioned the reasoning of the police and doubted that Jews carried out the acts.

Ten months later, at dawn on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, three youths, one of them Auerbach, were detained in Beit El at the home of one of the youths. Auerbach and one other youth were taken to the offices of the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police where they were interrogated on suspicion of violating an administrative restraining order. The Beit El resident was taken to the offices of the National Unit of Serious and International Crime Investigations on suspicion of involvement with spray painting graffiti on the Latrun Monastery in September 2012 and was brought later the same day to the Rishon L’Tzion Magistrate Court where his remand was extended until Friday, July 5, despite the police demand for a 10-day extension. On Thursday, July 4, Auerbach was brought to the Rishon L’Tzion Magistrate Court and the police demanded an eight day extension of his remand.

In the end Auerbach remained in remand for nine days, during which time he was interrogated concerning his suspected involvement with the September 2012 Latrun Monastery incident. He denied all connection to the incident and maintained his right to remain silent. In the end he was released.

As stated above, in December 2014 the case was closed due to lack of evidence linking him to the incident. Auerbach is considering suing the police for false detention.

Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who represented Auerbach, stated in response, “After the irresponsible witch-hunt by the police, the painful truth is quietly coming to light. Many unnecessary false detentions brought about by pressure from the media and politicians, ended with nothing. We hope that the police will change their method, and believe that a suit will be filed on the matter.”

At the time of the many false detentions Honenu commented on the methods of the police.

During the last week of October 2012, dozens of youth, girls and boys aged 15-16, were summoned for interrogation at the offices of the National Unit of Serious and International Crime Investigations in Lod and questioned about the damage caused to the Latrun Monastery the previous month. The interrogated youth were linked to the incident simply due to their being present in Migron two days previously to protest the evacuation of the community. They had arrived at Migron in organized buses from their high schools. In Migron the protesters were loaded on to buses which the security forces had ready for them and were taken to various locations throughout Israel. One of the buses let the protesters out at the Latrun Intersection, near the Latrun Monastery.

Honenu, which provided the interrogated youth with legal assistance, questioned the method of interrogation by the police: “This is not the first time that the police have summoned dozens of suspects to be interrogated without concrete information linking them to involvement with a specific incident.”

Honenu notes that the police have been using technologically advanced means to investigate the “price tag” incidents. One of the suspects interrogated said that he was detained following the protest at Migron only because he had lent his cell phone to a friend who had been taken to Latrun. “How did the police know that my cell phone was there?” he asked. Only the police have the answers.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


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