Date of Incident: 10 June 2011
Location: Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip
On 10 June 2011, a 17-year-old boy from Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, is arrested by Palestinian police and accused of theft.
On 10 June 2011, A.A. went to work selling milk and yogurt in Gaza City. While he was making a delivery in an apartment block, ‘a woman accused me of stealing a wallet and a mobile phone from her apartment’, he says.
A.A. denied the accusation but the woman didn’t believe him and called the police. When the police arrived to take the woman’s statement they handcuffed A.A.. ‘That was around 12:30 pm,’ recalls A.A.. ‘They kept me handcuffed for about an hour. Then they took me to the police station. During the transfer, I wasn’t beaten or insulted.’ His father arrived at the station about an hour later and was informed about what had happened. A.A. says that he did not receive any legal support at the station and no one explained what punishment he should expect.
A.A. recalls the interrogation at the station; ‘A police interrogator asked me about the robbery and I denied stealing anything, but the interrogator slapped me three times. I felt pain but it was gone shortly after that. I was scared and confused. I felt dizzy. I’m diabetic and have high blood pressure [...] I was seated on the floor of the interrogation room and beaten on the feet 15 times with a plastic stick. They wanted me to confess to the robbery but I didn’t.’
Afterwards, A.A. was transferred to the prosecution office. His hands were not handcuffed but he says that the police shouted and insulted him. ‘“Confess you son of a thief,” they kept telling me.’ Although A.A. had no lawyer or family member present during the interrogation, the sons of the woman, who made the accusation, were allowed into the room. ‘They claimed I stole the wallet and mobile phone,’ he explains.
The interrogation lasted for around an hour during which time A.A. recalls: ‘No one ever informed me of my right to remain silent and that I’m entitled not to answer any questions. The prosecutor even threatened to throw me out of the window if I didn’t tell the truth. He promised he would send me home if I told him the truth [...] I told the prosecutor the truth; that I didn’t steal anything. He told me to sign some papers and I did so without reading them. I can’t read or write well.’
The prosecutor was aware that A.A. suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure so he gave orders for him to be checked by a doctor in the hospital before being sent to Dar al-Rabe’e juvenile centre. A.A. was transferred to the centre without being brought to court first. ‘It was the prosecutor who decided to detain me, not a judge. Release on bail was never discussed. I haven’t been released yet, and the 15-day detention is extended automatically upon expiry until they put me on trial. I still don’t know when I will appear in court. I’ve been detained here in the juvenile centre since 10 June. I didn’t have a lawyer. No final sentence has been issued against me because I haven’t appeared in court yet.’
Speaking about Dar al-Rabe’e, A.A. says, ‘The food is good and plenty [...] The place is large and clean. The children and I play football and table tennis. There’s a summer camp these days in the centre and they also took us to a swimming pool. Teachers, instructors and supervisors treat me nicely. There’s a doctor here. He gave me a shot because of my diabetes and blood pressure. I told him I didn’t like medications or pills, so he gave me a shot to lower blood sugar. He follows-up my condition regularly.’
A.A. says he receives visits from his family on Fridays; he sits with them for an hour or two. He has never been denied any visitations. So far he hasn’t seen a lawyer but his father told him that he should expect a visit from a lawyer very soon.
Regarding his education A.A. says: ‘I don’t go to school. I finished the seventh grade and dropped out. Here in the centre, they teach me Arabic and mathematics for about half-an-hour to one hour per day, and carpentry and blacksmithing for two hours per day. . Education here is better because they teach me practical things such as carpentry and blacksmithing. We don’t have that in school.’
A.A. intends to return to school when he gets out. ‘I’ll go back to school and quit selling milk and yogurt, which got me into this trouble in the first place. I need some time until my family forgives me for all the trouble I’ve caused them.'
Affidavit taken on 13 July 2011