An Israeli military court has ordered the release of a British citizen who was “shackled and threatened” for three weeks by the Shin Bet security service, after a confession was ruled to have been extracted under physical and psychological pressure.
Faiz Mahmoud Ahmed Sherari, 49, a dual UK-Lebanese national who has lived in Britain for the last 23 years, was accused of being a courier for Hamas during a four-day visit to the West Bank in September, when he was arrested.
However, a judge sitting in an Israeli military court has now ordered his release after finding that “prolonged painful shackling [and] threats” were used between 15 September and 6 October to “exploit the [man’s] weaknesses”.
He was held without access to a lawyer, and the British embassy in Tel Aviv said it was trying to provide consular assistance.
It is rare for Israel’s military courts to criticise Israeli security practices, but Lt Col Azriel Levy found that Sherari’s rights were violated and that his confession was coerced and therefore invalid, according to reports in Israeli media.
“There’s no doubt that the defendant’s confession, which was given an hour after the end of his Shin Bet interrogation, was dramatically influenced by the method of interrogation, which also included pained and prolonged shackling, threats, and a blatant exploitation of the defendant’s demonstrated weakness,” said Levy.
Sherari remains in custody pending an appeal. A statement from Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, said Sherari was indicted “for grave offences against the security of the region,” adding: “The allegations of torture… are baseless and groundless.”