Demanding Compensation for an Arab Family Violently Assaulted by Police Officers

Haifa Magistrates' Court, Civil Lawsuit 15787/07 Hussein v. Elyahu, et al.

On 2 September 2007, Adalah filed a tort suit to the Haifa Magistrates' Court on behalf of Mr. Tawfiq Abdul Fatah Hussein and his family against the Israeli police and two individual police officers who attacked them in 2000, and caused serious injuries. In the suit, Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-�Ajou demanded that the court award compensation to the family for the damages inflicted on them.

The assault occurred seven years ago on 3 August 2000. Members of the Hussein family were in their car close to Kawkab, and drove up besides a police car. When the two police officers inside the car saw the family's car, they stopped. One of them approached Mr. Hussein and asked to see his identity card. However, Mr. Hussein was not carrying his ID with him and told the police officer of that fact. The discussion between the police officer and Mr. Hussein became heated, and at a certain point the former struck Mr. Hussein with a flashlight that he was holding in his hand and shook the car forcefully. The children sitting in the back of the car woke up and began to cry.

The two police officers then dragged Mr. Hussein out of the car by his hair and one of them bound his hands together and informed him that he was under arrest. The two police officers threw him to the ground and beat him all over his body. One police officer then dragged Mr. Hussein to the police car and punched him in his face and teeth.

Ms. Samar Abdul Fatah Hussein was also the victim of police violence as she was struck hard with the flashlight on her hand by a police officer while she was asking a relative about her husband's identification card via her mobile phone.

Subsequently, the police officers accused Mr. Hussein of driving his car while under the influence of alcohol. The police suspended his driving license for thirty days based on this false accusation.

Significantly, four hours after his detention at a police station, Mr. Hussein was transferred to the Western Galilee Hospital, where comprehensive tests were carried out on him. The tests revealed that some of his teeth and a rib had been broken. Ms. Hussein and the couple's daughter sustained serious psychological damage, and the child still continues to suffer from severe anxiety attacks.

After this incident, Adalah filed a complaint to the Ministry of Justice's Police Investigation Unit (�Mahash�) on behalf of the Hussein family. Mahash opened an investigation into the incident and recommended that indictments be filed against the police officers involved. In May 2002 indictments were indeed filed against the two officers on the charge of assault and causing grievous bodily harm, and in April 2007 the Akka Magistrates' Court convicted them.

In the tort suit, Attorney El-�Ajou argued that the police officers breached the duty imposed on them, as well as criminal laws. Further, they inflicted great physical, psychological and economic damage on the family, and therefore the state must compensate them for the damages they sustained. Adalah further argued that the police officers' assault violated the constitutional rights of the members of the family to dignity, bodily integrity and freedom. Therefore punitive damages must be awarded to deter the two police officers and their colleagues from such violent behavior.

Adalah emphasized that, �The police force did not train the two police officers correctly as regards preventing the abuse of power and did not clarify the duties incumbent upon them in general to maintain public safety, including that of the Hussein family, as well as its responsibility to train its officers to respect and protect the human rights of the public.�

Civil Lawsuit #15787/07, Hussein v. Elyahu , et al. (Haifa Magistrate Court)

 The Lawsuit (Hebrew)