Date of Incident: 11 June 2011
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip
On 11 June 2011, a 17-year-old boy from At Twam neighbourhood, Gaza City, is arrested by Palestinian police and accused of homosexuality. On 11 June 2011, M.S. was handed a summons order to go to the police station. ‘I was accused of engaging in a homosexual act with one of the neighbour’s children’, he explains.
M.S. was taken to be interrogated at the station, while his father waited outside. The policeman informed him of the accusation and M.S. denied it. ‘He ordered me to sign the statement the other policeman had written. It was a one-page document. I went through it very quickly, read what it said, and then signed it,’ recalls M.S..
M.S. was then brought to the Department of Investigation where he was detained in a small room measuring approximately 2x1 metres. ‘About 10 minutes later, a man opened the door and asked me for my name and accusation. I answered him, but he immediately started hitting me with a stick, kicking, slapping and punching me,’ says M.S.. This was repeated every half-an-hour by different men. ‘One of them hit me with a whip that is used to hit animals. They would hit me and go away. I think four of them hit me that day, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t stand on my feet, and my nose, mouth and teeth bled.’
At 5:00 pm, M.S. was taken to an interrogation room measuring 4x4 metres and made to stand in front of seven men. He describes what happened next; ‘One of the seven men tied my hands behind my back, and immediately they started hitting me, without asking me any question. Some of them kicked me. Others slapped me on the neck and punched me on the stomach. They kept hitting me without stopping for about five minute.’
Then the questioning began. ‘“When did you have sex with that person?” the man sitting behind the desk asked me. “I didn’t do it,” I said and the other men started hitting me all over again with leather and bamboo sticks, not to mention slapping, kicking and punching. They even knocked me down and I fainted. Then I felt water being poured on my face. I felt severe nausea.’
Finally M.S. was in so much pain that he told them he would ‘confess to anything they wanted. I stood there, watching one of them writing on some papers without asking me anything. “Come and sign,” he said. “I want to read what you wrote,” I said but one of them hit me on the neck so hard that my face slammed into the table, and I felt my nose was bleeding. “Sign,” he shouted and insulted me and my mother, so I had to sign the papers.’
A policeman brought M.S. back to his cell. ‘“What’s your accusation?” the policeman asked me. I told him about the accusation, and added; “I’m innocent.” “Turn your back and put your hands against the wall and lift the right leg,” he shouted. He was joined by another policeman, and both of them started eating nuts and seeds and spitting them at my back and head. They kept me standing there for about three hours until I fell down.’
The following morning, M.S. was taken to the yard and ordered to wash a jeep. At around 12:00 pm, he was transferred with other detainees to the prosecution office. ‘“Sign here,” the prosecutor said and I signed after reading it. It said that the prosecutor informed me of the accusation but I refused and denied it.’
M.S. was then driven to court: ‘A judge asked me how I pleaded, and I told him not guilty, and he immediately extended my detention for 15 days.’ The statement M.S. signed at the Investigation Department was used in the court hearing. ‘It said I confessed and signed my statement, even though I told the court I signed after beating.’ He was brought for a check-up at the hospital before being transferred to Dar al-Rabe’e juvenile centre. M.S.’s father filed two requests to release him on bail. After both requests were rejected, he hired a lawyer who came to talk with M.S. in the centre. This was the first time he had received any legal consultation since his arrest. Both the lawyer and his father were present for the two court sessions on 27 June and 5 July 2011. M.S. explains: ‘I never confessed in those two sessions and my detention was extended twice.’ In addition, he says that the court he was tried in was ‘not a juvenile court.’
Speaking about conditions in Dar al-Rabe’e, he says: ‘The centre is good and clean. Each one has his own bed [...] The food is good and varied [...] Treatment is excellent. They even took us on a trip to the sea last week. We don’t have a doctor here, but you’ll be rushed to the hospital in case you get sick. Visitation is allowed during the day for family members and relatives only, or those who accompany them such as friends. I’m allowed to sit with them alone. The lawyer can come to visit me anytime he wants. He sits me alone in a private room. As for school, we’re on a summer break.’
The centre director told M.S. that if he behaves well he could be released before the end of his detention period. ‘He told me he could give me leave to visit my family and eventually release me if I don’t cause any trouble outside.’
Affidavit taken on 13 July 2011