Following Adalah and Addameer's Supreme Court Petition:Autopsy Conducted on Body of Palestinian Minor Mu’taz Ewisat

On 21 March 2016, the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute carried out an autopsy on the body of Palestinian minor, 16-year oldMu’tazEwisat. The autopsy took place after the police lifted their previous objection to deny his family’s request for an autopsy to determine the circumstances of his death following a petition filed to the Israeli Supreme Court by Adalah and Addameer- Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association on their behalf on 13 March 2016. The autopsy was carried out in the presence of a Palestinian doctor who observed the procedure on behalf of the family. Mu’taz’sare now awaiting the results of the autopsy.

Mu’taz was killed by Israeli police gunfire on 17 October 2015in the Jewish settlement of ArmonHaNatziv in East Jerusalem. Critically, there is no video evidence of the killing, and, as the petition emphasizes, the only known account of Mu’taz killing is the version given by the police, who claim that he attempted to stab a police officer, and they shot and killed him as a result. The child’s family vigorously denies this account. These facts make an autopsy critical to the attempt to uncover the truth about the police’s killing of Mu’taz.

Mr. Ahmad Ewisat, the father of the deceased child, had previously requested detailed information about the circumstances of his son’s death, and asked for an investigative judge to be appointed to the case. The Jerusalem Magistrates’Court rejected his request. Mr. Ewisatthen requested that the Ministry of Justice’s Police Investigations Department (“Mahash”) open an investigation, but it has so far taken no steps to investigate. Recently, Mr. Ewisatdemanded an independent autopsy on Mu’taz’s body, but the police denied the request. The police conditioned the return of Mu’taz’s body to his family on their agreement to bury him immediately, without being autopsied, which would thwart an impartial investigation into the killing. The police withheld the deceased’s body from his family for 4 months.

The petition, which was submitted by Adalah Attorney SuhadBisharaand AttorneyMuhammad Mahmoud from Addameer states that, “preventing the family from conducting an autopsy only reinforces the strong suspicions that the police have tampered with the evidence and impeded the process of investigation.” The petitioners argued that the police are typically the party that requests such procedures to be able to uncover the truth. However, in this case the police are refusing the autopsy,a fact which raises suspicions of a criminal act and of an attempt to tamper with evidence and thwart an investigation before it could begin, particularly given that the police are in a serious conflict of interests as both the party that is preventing the autopsy and the party suspected of the victim’s unlawful killing. The petitioners add that,“uncovering the truth is a critical component to the rights of the deceased and his family to human dignity.”

CASE CITATION: HCJ 2086/16 Ahmad Ewisat v. The Israel Police