News



                                                  Jerusalem, 16 March 1998

Israel Government Response to Vanunu Application
(Communicated by Ministry of Justice Spokeswoman)

AN EXTRACT OF THE RESPONSE OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL TO THE APPLICATION OF
MORDECHAI VANUNU FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL THE DECISION TO CONTINUE HOLDING HIM
IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT;FILED WITH THE ISRAELI SUPREME COURT (FILE
NO.318/98)

Firstly the respondents wish to state that the request can be legally
rejected, since the decision, which is the subject of this application,
was taken lawfully and because it is no longer relevant due to the
decisions of the Prisons Commissioner to remove the applicant from
solitary confinement, as will be clarified below.

The applicant was tried before the Jerusalem District Court and convicted
of aiding the enemy in time of war, of giving secret information with the
intent to harm the security of the state and of the gathering of secret
information with the intent of harming the security of the state.

The applicant was sentenced to prison for 18 years, starting from the date
of his arrest on the 7th October 1986. The appeal that was submitted to
the Supreme Court was rejected in Criminal Appeal no. 172/88 (44(3) P.D.
265).

The applicant has been held, up until now in solitary confinement, in
accordance with the decision and on the instructions of, the Prisons'
Commissioner, in accordance with the authority vested in him under
Regulation 21 of the Prisons' Regulations 1978, under which the need to
continue holding the applicant in solitary confinement is examined by the
Commissioner every two months.

The decision of the Commissioner regarding the need to hold the applicant
in solitary confinement, was based on considerations of state security and
was found to be justified by the District Court and the Supreme Court,
after having been examined from time to time, in appeals submitted by the
applicant, including this latest one.

On the 10th March 1998, the Prisons' Commissioner Amos Azani, again
considered the applicant's case, and reached the following decision which
was stated in his letter to the appropriate authorities, including the
warden of Shikma Prison:

DECISION.

1. The prisoner Mordechai Vanunu (hereinafter "the prisoner") has been
held in solitary confinement on the grounds of posing a danger to state
security, in accordance with the decisions made from time to time by the
Prisons' Commissioner in accordance with the authority vested in him under
Regulation 21 of the Prisons' Regulations 1978.

2. A series of consultations was held recently in which according to the
opinion of security officials, it would be possible from the perspective
of state security, to hold the prisoner with other prisoners, within the
necessary limitations.

At the same time, I received medical opinions, which followed an
examination of the mental state of the prisoner and which was carried out
with his cooperation, which specified the effects that continued solitary
confinement would cause to the prisoner's mental state.

3. Following these opinions, I again consulted with various security
officials, with the mental health department of the Prisons' Authority and
with the State Attorney's Office, in order to review all of the
circumstances and considerations regarding this matter.

During the course of these consultations, the security considerations -
which still apply - were weighed up on the one hand, and the
considerations concerning the mental health of the prisoner, were weighed
up on the other. Clarifications were also held with the relevant
authorities in the Prisons' Authority, including the warden of Shikma
Prison, where the prisoner is being held.

4. In light of the above facts, I have decided as follows:

A. The prisoner will no longer be held in solitary confinement.

B. Since the prisoner is classified as a security prisoner, certain legal
limitations will be placed on him regarding paroles, visits, telephone
rights etc., and additional limitations, based on recommendations of
security officials.

C. The prisoner will continue to be held at Shikma Prison. The place and
conditions of his imprisonment as a security prisoner not in solitary
confinement will be decided by the prison warden.

On the 12th March, 1998, the warden of Shikma Prison, Yitzhak Gabbai, met
with the applicant and told him of the Commissioners' decision and
informed him of the conditions of his imprisonment from that day on. Below
are the key points of that interview:

After the prisoner (that is the applicant), refused to be transferred to
the working prisoners' wing, the warden agreed that, "the applicant would
continue to sleep in his cell, and the solitary confinement would be
lifted. He would be permitted during the daytime to walk outside of (the
building in which he is being held)." Within this framework, "he will be
permitted to speak and meet with prisoners," and will be permitted, if he
wishes, a cell mate or mates.

It was made clear to the prisoner that censorship would still be carried
out on his outgoing letters and on his telephone conversations and that he
would not be entitled to parole. The arrangements regarding visits will
continue as in the past.

9. Therefore, the grounds for the application have ceased to apply, and
the honourable court is asked that no leave to appeal be granted.

Issued: March 12th, 1998.

Nili Arad
Ministry of Justice Director-General.

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