Adalah and Addameer petition Supreme Court demanding autopsy for Palestinian minor Mu’taz Ewisat

Preventing an autopsy reinforces strong suspicions that the police tampered with the evidence and impeded the process of investigation.

On Tuesday, 13 March 2016, Adalah and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the family of Palestinian minor Mu’taz Ewisat demanding an autopsy of his body. Mu’taz, who was 16 years old at the time of his death, was killed by Israeli police gunfire on 17 October 2015 in the Jewish settlement of Armon HaNatziv in East Jerusalem. The police are refusing to return the body to his family unless they bury him immediately, which would negate the possibility of an autopsy being conducted by a forensic doctor, and therefore, thwart an impartial investigation into the circumstances of his killing.


Mr. Ahmad Ewisat, the father of the deceased child, has requested detailed information about the circumstances of his son’s death, and has asked for an investigative judge to be appointed to the case. The Jerusalem Magistrates ‘Court rejected his request. Mr. Ewisat then 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. Ewisat demanded an independent autopsy on Mu’taz’s body, but the police denied the request.


The petition, which was submitted by Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara and Attorney Muhammad 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.


Critically, there is no video evidence of the killing, and, as the petition emphasizes, the only known account to 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 result. This account is vigorously denied by the child’s family. These facts make an autopsy critical to the attempt to uncover the truth about the killing. The petition adds that “uncovering the truth is a critical component to the rights of the deceased and his family to human dignity.”


Case Citation: HCJ2086/16 Ahmad Ewisat v.The Israel Police