Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Shevat 5766 - February 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Forensics Institute Defiles Body, Violating Court's Instructions

by Betzalel Kahn

The chareidi community was shocked by the desecration and defilement of the dead last week when the Haifa District Court approved an autopsy on the body of Frieda Wiesel o"h, who was found dead in her apartment in Kiryat Ata. Following the incident, demonstrations took place around the country.

Suspecting murder, the police ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. When the family members voiced firm objections, the police turned to the Haifa District Court.

Atty. Rabbi Yisroel Shlomai of Haifa, representing the family as a volunteer for ZAKA's legal department, demanded that the judge prevent any examination. When it was made clear that the law requires an autopsy following every incident in which a legal violation is suspected, it was decided to ask the judge to order the Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir to perform only an external autopsy to maintain kovod hameis as much as possible.

The judge expressed sensitivity to the family's demand to act in accordance with halochoh, but said that the law requires a thorough postmortem examination in order to rule out the possibility of murder. Atty. Shlomai then requested a graduated autopsy, starting with an external examination and progressing to a localized autopsy with minimal harm to the body in steps, only if the cause of death could not otherwise be determined by a previous stage.

When the judge agreed to the request, Atty. Shlomai then argued, based on investigations and articles published in recent years, the forensics workers at Abu Kabir could not be relied on to adhere to court orders. But the judge rejected his claim.

Ten minutes later, while the family of the deceased was looking into the possibility of filing a High Court appeal, the Forensics Institute received the judge's decision by fax and within seconds the autopsy got underway. A ZAKA representative at the scene said it has been a long time since he has seen a body defiled in such an appalling manner by Abu Kabir workers.

News of the abominable incident traveled quickly around the country, sparking angry protest demonstrations in Jerusalem and outside the Forensics Institute that continued for hours, causing severe traffic jams in Jerusalem throughout the afternoon and evening. The next day hundreds of protesters again demonstrated outside the Forensics Institute.

Rabbonim and public figures said the police and the Prosecutor's Office cannot be allowed to deliberately set aside kovod hameis time after time with total disregard for the sensitivities of chareidi families whose loved ones lie dead before them and whose only desire is to bury them as quickly as possible to preserve their honor.

Even when courts issue orders for postmortem examinations, they added, an independent observer should be appointed to oversee the examination firsthand since the Forensics Institute staff does not hesitate to perform full autopsies in cases where a simple external examination would suffice. Furthermore, they said, the courts should issue instructions on how to perform the external examinations without defiling the dead in such a disgraceful manner.


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