Why does the state refrain from prosecuting patients who have violated isolation?

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Five months since the corona virus began to spread in the country, in the background are many cases of corona patients who grossly violated the isolation instructions – and to this day not a single indictment has been filed against the violators. This is despite the fact that section 218 of the Penal Code provides for a lengthy prison sentence for a person who has committed an act that may spread an illness. This emerges from a survey conducted by “Globes”.

In the case of a corona patient who violated isolation, the police are satisfied with administrative enforcement in the form of issuing a NIS 5,000 fine report. From March to the end of June, 739 such reports were distributed to isolation violators, who are verified patients or who have been exposed to a patient.

The Ministry of Justice said that the state has not yet filed an indictment for the offense of committing an act that could spread a disease, in the context of the corona virus. The police generally stated that “since the beginning of the year, 63 cases have been opened for the offense of committing an act that could spread a disease. 11 of them have been shelved. In eight cases (unrelated to Corona, A and C), indictments have been filed.”

Since the outbreak of the plague in the country, the police have published many cases in which the isolation provisions concerning verified corona patients have been violated. For example, over the weekend, the police announced that they had located a verified Corona patient who was staying with his family at the Club Hotel in Eilat, including in the hotel pool. Despite the seriousness of the act and the real danger to the public, the matter was closed with an administrative fine.

The police statement said that the YSM police had informed the patient that he was violating the ‘Public Health Order’ and that he should leave the place immediately and return to solitary confinement at his home. The ISM fighters accompanied the patient to his vehicle and handed him a fine report of NIS 5,000. ”

This is not a one-time event. Every few days, the police issue a spokesperson on corona patients who violate the isolation regulations, at the real risk of human life in the public space. In one case, before Passover, the police announced that they had discovered a verified Corona patient who had made his way to Jerusalem by public bus along with more than 30 passengers. In another case, the police announced that a Corona patient went out of solitary confinement at her home in Or Yehuda to a hotel in Tel Aviv to rest with her partner.

Misconduct

Section 218 of the Penal Code provides for a lengthy prison sentence for a person who has committed an act that may spread an illness. “Whoever negligently commits an act that may spread a disease that endangers life, is liable to imprisonment for three years; he committed the act intentionally, liable to imprisonment for seven years,” the law states.
The Supreme Court ruled in a series of judgments that “the basic factual analysis of the offense (section 218, a. C) shows that it is a conduct offense – and there is no need for the disease to actually spread,” and that intentional disease spread also includes reckless conduct.

The Ministry of Justice told “Globes” that “so far no indictments have been filed for an offense under section 218 of the Corona Penal Code. Some of the investigations into Corona patients suspected of violating isolation orders have been significantly delayed due to their illness.” “Concrete offenses under the designated legislation regarding the violation of provisions relating to the protection of public health during the Corona period, and not under section 218 of the Penal Code.”

The Ministry of Justice clarified that enforcement policy sets criteria for cases where it would be justified to consider opening a criminal investigation for a violation of section 218 of the Penal Code. Thus, criminal enforcement will be considered in the following cases: “A patient diagnosed in Corona violated a home hospitalization order, hospitalization order or hospitalization; a patient diagnosed in Corona lied on a material matter or hid material information in his epidemiological investigation and thereby misled the Ministry of Health about isolating other people; Produced or organized or organized a particularly large gathering or was designed to be larger than allowed; “Re-activation, after imposing a fine for the first time, of a place, business or public transport service (e.g. bar, disco, ballroom, etc.), and when in place, there were dozens Many of the people at the same time, without adhering to the rules of distance (or at least, without an indication of action by the operator to reduce the risk to public health); Exceptional cases in the severity of a deliberate violation of Ministry of Health guidelines; As well as cases of repeated violations many times. ”

However, as stated, so far section 218 is a “dead letter” as far as violating the provisions of the Corona is concerned. A “Globes” investigation reveals that by the beginning of July 2020, eight indictments had been filed for section 218 of the Penal Code, but in circumstances unrelated to Corona.

Administrative track

Every year, as a matter of routine, indictments are filed in respect of section 218 against persons engaged in the smuggling and marketing of unsupervised table eggs. Patients with infectious diseases who had sex while hiding their illness from their spouses were also prosecuted for this section. This, even if no actual infection was caused. In light of this, it is puzzling that this section is not specifically enforced with respect to corona disease.

The Ministry of Justice explained that the tendency not to prosecute an offense under section 218 with respect to Corona stems from the fact that the legislature chose to transfer enforcement in this area to the administrative channel in the form of fines. According to the Ministry of Justice, double enforcement is not possible, so criminal enforcement is reserved for extreme cases.

However, it also seems that the Ministry of Justice’s criteria for extreme cases are hardly applied in practice. Enforcement policy states, among other things, that consideration should be given to opening a criminal investigation “in the event that a person has produced or organized or conducted a particularly large gathering or was planned to be particularly large beyond what is permissible.” So far, however, a large number of mass incidents have been uncovered, such as parties and mass parties that took place illegally – and yet the police have for the most part contented themselves with imposing only a fine on the event producer or administrative closure of the business.

Thus, for example, the police announced that last June they ordered the closure of a nightclub in Eilat that operated in violation of the ‘Public Health Order’ and emergency regulations at the risk of the population. The announcement stated that “a mass party was held at the place, the club’s customers are dancing densely, without masks, including the place’s employees who act contrary to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.” However, despite the fact that the business owner was warned in advance, even in this case, the police were content with an administrative fine and an administrative closure of the business for 23 days.

On the other hand, it should be noted that in another incident, the police announced that they were organizing an event that took place at a large party on the roof of a hotel in Tel Aviv on suspicion of spreading an illness. To date, however, no indictment has been filed in the matter.

Verified patient on flight

Another extreme case in which the prosecution has not yet decided whether to prosecute the suspect in the offense under section 218, concerns a verified corona patient who flew abroad in April. The police statement said that A day after receiving the message, the suspect left the country, did not obey the instructions and before he left, had time to perform a corona test. The next day, the suspect received a message from his son that he was positive for the virus. verified.

“According to the investigation, the suspect is carrying the corona virus and knowingly chose to hide it from the authorities, thereby endangering public peace and intentionally spreading the disease. The suspicion also arose that his son knew about being the virus and was a partner in hiding the information.”

As early as May, the police forwarded the findings of the investigation for the purpose of filing an indictment against the father and son. In practice, however, no indictment has yet been filed.

The grounds for law enforcement

Section 218 of the Act provides Prolonged imprisonment for a person who has committed an act that may spread an illness: if he did so negligently – he is liable to 3 years imprisonment; If he did so intentionally – he was sentenced to 7 years in prison

Enforcement policy determines That in the following cases a criminal investigation should be considered for an offense under this section:
■ A patient diagnosed in Corona violated a home hospitalization order, a hotel hospitalization order or a hospitalization
■ A patient diagnosed with corona lied on a material matter or hid material information in his epidemiological investigation
■ A person has produced or organized or organized a particularly large gathering or was planned to be particularly large beyond what is permissible, thereby misleading the Ministry of Health regarding the isolation of other people
■ Re-activation, after imposing a fine for the first time, of a place, business or public transport service. This, when there were many dozens of people at the time, without adhering to the rules of distance
■ Exceptions to the seriousness of a deliberate violation of the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, as well as cases of repeated violations many times

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