Israel charges officer with beating Palestinian-American

AFP , Thursday 11 Sep 2014

Tariq Abu Khdeir
Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, a U.S. citizen who relatives say was beaten and arrested by Israeli police during clashes sparked by the killing of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir, is escorted by Israeli prison guards during an appearance at Jerusalem magistrate's court. Israel's Justice Ministry said Wednesday, Sept. 10 (Photo: AP)

Israel's justice ministry has charged a border policeman with assaulting and injuring a 15-year-old Palestinian-American dual national in July, according to the indictment seen by AFP Thursday.

The policeman, whose name remains under a gag order, was indicted at Jerusalem magistrate's court on Wednesday for using "excessive force" that could not be justified against Tariq Abu Khder at a July 3 demonstration in the annexed east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat.

The incident took place as tensions peaked a day after the abduction and burning alive of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder from Shuafat, Tariq's cousin.

Three Israelis were eventually charged with the killing, saying it was in revenge for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by what Israel says was Hamas militants, an incident that later led to the start on July 8 of the 50-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

According to a justice ministry statement, "evidence was found supporting the guilt of the police officer suspected of severe violent crimes, committed after the arrest of the minor, who was handcuffed at the time".

Tariq Abu Khder has denied taking part in the demonstration, saying he was only an observer but fled when police began chasing suspects, fell and was cuffed and beaten.

A YouTube video showing Israeli border police beating and kicking a handcuffed semi-conscious figure on the ground before dragging him away sparked a US State Department call for a "speedy, transparent and credible investigation".

An uncle of Tariq, who has since returned home to Florida, called the indictment a "cover up" of the beating and an Israeli attempt to appease the United States.

"If Tariq wasn't an American citizen we would have never seen an investigation," Yassin Abu Khder told AFP, noting that his nephew was attacked by a "group" of policemen who had also "attacked dozens of other kids".

"But we won't see any further indictment because those kids are not American citizens," he added.

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