Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Teen: 30 Haredim attacked us
Secular teen says he and his friends were dragged into warehouse, beaten with clubs while passing through ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. 'I thought I was going to die there,' he says
"Seculars aren't allowed here, you're Russian thieves," - this is what Haredi youths told A. before beating him and three of his friends while holding them in a warehouse in Haifa on Monday.
"It was horribly scary," he told Ynet on Tuesday. "I thought I was going to die there, and that my life would end at the age of 14."
The attorney representing the three suspects, whose remand was extended, claimed that "it's impossible that they were identified among all of the Yeshiva students, who look alike."
A. and his friends, ages 12-14, were passing through Haifa's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Kiryat Vishnitz on their way back from the Grand Canyon Mall at 5 pm on Monday, when they came upon a soccer field where they struck up a game. According to A., the Haredi teens arrived at the field a few minutes later and disrupted their play.
'Today you will die'
"We descended towards the playground, and decided to sit there for a few minutes," he recalled. "After two or three minutes about 30 Haredim arrived there, maybe more. They bound our hands, and dragged us to some warehouse, where they covered our eyes. They spilled bleach on us and said that they would set us on fire. The whole time they hit us and said, 'today you will die' and 'this is your end.'"
Eventually one of the boys managed to alert the police. Around the same time, the emergency hotline received an anonymous call from a payphone in the neighborhood. Before the police arrived on the scene, A. said, one of the assaulters ordered one of the boys to take his brass knuckles. "He told my friend to say that they arre his, or else he would kill him," A. said.
Websites covering the ultra-Orthodox sector reported that the complainants are Russian boys who sought to avenge an attack on their friend that took place in the neighborhood a few weeks earlier. They also stated that the boys threatened children in the playground. Two of the victims were, in fact, of Russian descent.
Knife found on suspect
Police officials say that in addition to the brass knuckles that were found on one of the victims, a club was found in the nearby bushes. A Lederman knife holder was found on one of the suspects.
The police prosecutor said during a hearing at the Haifa Magistrate's Court that the complainants identified two Yeshiva students as the attackers. Another 17-year-old boy suspected of participating in the assault was arrested at the same time.
Attorney Ronen Haliva, who represents the three suspects, argued that it is unlikely that the defendants would have stayed at the area of the crime if they had anything to do with it. He claimed that the police incompetence in the case is not limited to wrongful arrest, but also includes the fact that they did not conduct a lineup and did not check the suspects' clothes for the bleach that they allegedly spilled on the victims.
Judge Nasreen Adawi asserted that the police have enough evidence that points to the suspects' involvement in the case, and that their release might disrupt the investigation. However, she extended their remand by only three days, even though the police requested seven.