Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Attorney General v. Hinkis, 1930


Attorney General v. Hinkis

Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 9 March 1930



   "We propose to reserve judgment," announced Chief Justice McDonnell, after listening to an impassioned plea of over two hours on behalf of Police Constable Hinkis, condemned to death in the lower Court for having participated in the murder of an Arab family in Jaffa during the riots.

   The Court was composed of Chief Justice McDonnell, Mr. Justice Baker and Mr. Justice Kermack.  Mr. Sherwell appeared for the prosecution.  The condemned man was represented by Dr. Eliash, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Frankel.

   The prisoner, dressed in the red garb that is worn by men awaiting the death sentence, was brought into the Court room, under guard, an hour before the hearing was opened on Friday morning.  He appeared self-controlled and listened attentively to the entire proceedings.

   Dr. Eliash, who spoke at length, based his appeal on the following three points: Scientific evidence, the evidence if eye-witnesses and circumstantial evidence.

   "In reading the opinion of the expert, Mr. Baker," said Dr. Eliash, " we find that as a matter of fact the Court below convicted the accused on this evidence.  I want first to deal with this evidence.  I say that it is not sufficient to have brought the Court to such a conclusion.  Mr. Baker stated that the proof offered by a scientific examination of cartridges is not as certain as that offered by finger-prints.  I want to remind the court that this matter of finger-prints was not accepted as conclusive evidence until it was proven that only one out of a thousand might differ.  It does not seem probable that the examination of only 12 rifles can be accepted as sufficient evidence on which to hang a man.  Were we to examine twelve children and were we to find that each of them has different eyes - could we conclude from such a finding that no two boys in Jerusalem have the same coloured eyes?"

   Dr. Eliash argued that the empty cartridge belonging to the accused might have been picked up by somebody on the road and dropped, unintentionally, into the house where the crime was committed.

   One of the eye-witnesses, continued Dr. Eliash, Abdeul Rahman, was entirely disbelieved by the Court and his evidence was not considered.  The other two, who declared that they had seen the incident from a neighbouring quarry, were considered by the Court, to have given evidence of no importance.  It was proven by the defence that they could not have seen anything from where they were.

   Dr. Eliash stated that the circumstantial evidence offered was entirely in favour of the accused.  "It is perfectly clear that the Arabs saw a Jewish policeman who was hatless and got the idea that he was helping the Jews.  The circumstantial evidence tallies with that of the Defence."

   "Should the Court find that the expert evidence is sufficient to convict a man, I say that there only exists the evidence of one witness and no corroboration.  You cannot, in this country, convict a man on the strength of the evidence of a single wiriness. A whole month had passed before these cartridges, on which the expert based his evidence, were produced."

   Dr. Eliash then turned to the question of premeditation.  He stated that even if the Court were to find the accused guilty he could not be convicted for premeditated murder.  In this connection Counsel cited the case of a colonist from Hedera who had been sentenced to death and whose sentence was commuted.  Premeditated murder should follow "calm resolution" and a certain interval must elapse between the time of resolution and the time of action.  "For two weeks the accused attempted to keep two firing sides from closer, more disastrous contact.  And if it is true that the accused along with others, committed the awful crime, that decision was certainly reached on the spur of the moment.  It happened after 4 Jews had been killed and 5 had been wounded.  It came after the horrors of Motza and Hebron.  His superior showed him to be a man whose record in the police force had been, for two years, most exemplary.  If he is responsible for the crime with which he is charged, he must have been like a man possessed.  The provocation of the moment must have been so great that he lost all self-control.  Murder committed under such circumstances is not murder with premeditation."

   Dr. Eliash completed his plea with a summing up of all his arguments.  The Chief Justice then caller on Mr. Sherwell to reply to the question of "premeditation" only.  The Public Prosecutor said: I find that there was premeditation in this case.  The accused had only one duty to perform with the rifle he held in his hand, but he used it for a very different purpose.  The fact that the outer door of the Arab house was broken and the two inner doors were also broken shows premeditation.  The evidence shows that murder was committed in two separate rooms, and that it was done in cold blood.  He deliberately allowed people to enter the house.  His duty, as a policeman, was to prevent murder.  Certainly there was sufficient evidence for the lower Court to find the man guilty of premeditated murder.

   Dr. Eliash rose to say: "The fact that the doors were broken is no proof of premeditation.  The whole incident lasted 5 minutes.  I quite agree that innocent persons were killed. But considering the whole circumstance, that was not murder with premeditation."

   It was 1:45 when the Chief Justice announced that judgment was reserved and that Counsel will be notified when the decision would be given.


  For four hours a crowd of people waited in the grounds of the Russian Buildings to hear the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal of Police Constable Hinkis.

   From twelve o'clock noon and all through the rest of the day The Palestine Bulletin received inquiries about the findings of the Court.


The Palestine Bulletin, 12 March 1930


Fifteen Year Imprisonment.

   Only Counsel and press representatives were present when the court opened yesterday morning and judgment was given on the appeal of police constable Hinkis.  "The Court unanimously quashes the sentence under Article 170 - murder with premeditation" - and substituted for it, the charge of wilful murder under Article 174, paragraph 1, and sentences the accused to fifteen years imprisonment.  The full judgment will be given later."


   This is the first case, arising out of the riots, in which a death sentence has been reduced to one of imprisonment.  In one other case, a death sentence passed in the lower court, has been held over for the present by the Court of Appeal remitting the case to be re-heard.  All other death sentences which have been heard by the Court of Appeal have been upheld.


The Palestine Post, 2 June 1935



   To mark the King's Birthday in this Jubilee year, the High Commissioner has decided, with the approval of the Colonial Secretary, to grant a partial amnesty to the 37 prisoners who are serving sentences on charges arising out of the 1929 riots, it is reliably learned by The Palestine Post.

   Full pardon will be extended to ten prisoners, eight Arabs and ex-P.C. Simcha Hinkis and Joseph Orphali. The latter are the only two Jews sentenced in connection with the disturbances.

The Palestine Post, 3 June 1935

Immediate Release

The following prisoners will be immediately released on June 3:-

... Simha Hinkis, ...


Remission of Sentences.

   The following prisoners will, in virtue of the remissions now granted by the High Commissioner, be released on August 1, 1935, subject to their behaviour continuing to be satisfactory:-... Yussef Abraham Orphali.


The Palestine Posit, 4 June 1935



Reception for Hinkis.

   A warm reception awaited Simha Hinkis outside the gate on the Queen Melisande Way exit. ... He left for Tel Aviv after visiting institutions and friends.


The Palestine Post, 9 June 1935

LAND at Tel Benjamin, outside Tel Aviv, has been given by Mr. I. L. Goldberg, the well-known philanthropist, to Simcha Hinkis, released as a result of the King's Birthday amnesty, for the purpose of enabling him to build a home-stead there.  Mr. Goldberg lost a son in the 1929 riots.


The Palestine Post, 24 May 1937


(From Our Own Correspondent)

TEL AVIV, Sunday. - Former members of the Palestine Police and the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force have organized a night patrol to be known as "Shmira Ltd."  The service will be available to all shop-keepers and landlords in Tel Aviv, upon the payment of a moderate fee.

   More than 100 ex-servicemen have already enrolled as members of the patrol, which is recognized by the Municipality and will be in touch with the Police.

   The patrol has been organized by Itshak Hos, Baruch Goffer, Moshe Shermesiter, Simha Hinkis and Abraham Neiman.


The Palestine Post, 30 May 1937

... Duties of Prosecution.

In my opinion the prosecution must prove affirmatively some concrete fact which necessarily supports the single witness, though every part of his evidence need not be corroborated.  Rex. V. Mullins (1848) 3 Cox 526, 531; Rex v Baskerville (1916) 2 K.B. 638, where the corroboration of accomplices  was considered and followed in Simha Hinkis v. Attorney Genera, Pal. Law Reports 441, 442.  This the Prosecution has not done.


The Palestine Post, 7 March 1938

   ...  The requirements of corroboration by an accomplice were laid down in R. v. Baskerville, to which reference has already been made, and are set out in Hinkis v. the Attorney General, Criminal Assize Appeal, No. 2 of 1930, Palestine Law Reports, 441. ...

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School