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Israel's Shin Bet Admits It Held Palestinian Suspects' Relatives as Pressure Tactic to Win Confessions

By VOA News
14 April 2008

Israel's internal security agency admits that, in order to extract confessions from Palestinian suspects, it has arrested prisoner's relatives on false charges.

A senior official of Shin Bet says the security agency should have used different methods, but he contends there was only one occasion when Israeli interrogators broke the rules set for them. He was reacting to a report about Shin Bet's interrogation techniques, prepared by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

The anti-torture group says the security agency has arrested Palestinian suspects' family members, or pretended to arrest them, on a number of occasions to break down prisoners' resistance to questioning. It contends the tactic causes severe psychological suffering, and in some cases amounts to torture.

In one case, the rights group said, a subject who had been warned to cooperate was shown his weeping mother being aggressively questioned in another room.

The anti-torture committee said the mother was subsequently indicted on a marginal charge to justify what it called her false arrest. The group says such tactics illegally exploit detainees and should be explicitly prohibited.

The unidentified Shin Bet official, said to be the head of the agency's interrogation and investigation unit, said Israel no longer detains prisoners' relatives to force their confessions. He appeared at a public meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday convened by the Israeli parliament's constitution, law and justice committee.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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