Published On: Wed, Mar 30th, 2016

Soldier Who Shot Neutralized Terrorist to stay in remand for two days

After popular protests and a prosecution which could not come up with any clear charges, the soldier who killed a neutralized terrorist in Hebron on Thursday will remain in remand for two days. The prosecution is expected to build its case during that period.

 

Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot neutralized terrorist/screenshot

Military Judge Lt. Col. Ron Shorr, who is presiding the case of the soldier who killed a neutralized terrorist in Hebron on Thursday, said that “the evidence (that the soldier murdered the terrorist) provided until now is not clear cut.”

The soldier’s attorney, Ilan Katz, said that “the prosecution requested nine days of remand, but the judge ruled to extend his remand for only two more days despite the inflated claims of the prosecution. The military court will not drag our client through a media lynching. The evidence will be gone over on Thursday, and we hope that by the weekend, he will no longer walk around in handcuffs in such a humiliating manner, especially after he risked his life for Israel.”

The soldiers other defense attorney, Binyamin Malka, said that “the decision speaks for itself. We will continue to work to prove our client’s innocence, and stick to our position that the soldier acted correctly and as expected in light of the evidence.”

The military prosecutors requested the extention of the soldier’s remand by nine days, saying, “We have found contradictions in the suspect’s testimony which require us to investigate further.”

During the hearing, the prosecution refrained from saying what crime the solider is suspected of committing; only repeating again and again that what the soldier did was an “extreme transgression.”

The chants and drumbeats of hundreds of supporters who came out for the soldier were heard inside the courtroom as the hearing began. Several politicians were at the show of support, including Avigdor Liberman, Moshe Feiglin, and Oren Hazan.

Prosecutor Rigler explained, “There is an alleged deviation from the commanders’ orders, safety rules, and a deviation from the rules of engagement. The investigation being carried out by the Military Police investigators began after the commanders filed a report. From the first reports, there arose suspicion of a serious offense. The investigation collected videos and testimonies from the officers at the scene from before the shooting and during it. From the evidence it is clear that the suspect shot in the direction of the terrorist who was lying on the ground – after the terrorist was already shot by another soldier following the stabbing attack, although he was still alive. The suspect who is being investigated is the one who fired without any operational need.”

The prosecution: “It doesn’t look like the soldier was in danger”

According to the prosecution, several significant questions arose regarding the claim that the suspect acted out of a clear and present danger to his life.

“The questions come from several places: The way that the suspect acted in real time, as we can see in the videos which were collected. His behavior doesn’t seem like the behavior of someone who’s life is in danger. The suspect’s statements which were said in real time, close to the time of firing, raise doubts as to his claim. The fire occurred several minutes after the two terrorists were lying on the ground after being shot by the first soldier.”

One of the soldier’s defense attorneys, Eyal Baserglick, asked if the terrorist was alive after the first bout of fire. The Police Investigator’s representative answered “this is one of the reasons why we want to perform the autopsy. According to my understanding, in the entire investigation, not one doctor checked the body, but several of those interrogated did claim that the terrorist was still alive.”

It was at this point when the prosecutor interjected and claimed that the evidence shows that the terrorist had signs of life when he was shot, and that video from the incident speaks for itself.

 

Ilan Katz replied that “the investigative and judiciary authorities of the state of israel are subject to the same norms and regulations. It cannot be that what a soldier does can be seen as worse than what a police officer or a prison guard does. There have been several instances just recently where a suspect discharged a weapon illegally, and people were freed, or at least not arrested – like in the inident in Jaffa.”

“The soldier was in a situation where his comrades were in real danger, in danger of losing their lives, ” the defense attorney said, “This was a terror event and the prosecution cannot deny it, especially due to the fact that there was a terrorist, and that they didn’t let them get close to him because there was a suspicion that he had a bomb.”

Hundreds of protesters in support of the soldier

MK Avigdor Liberman said at the end of the hearing that “the military prosecutors’ case fell to pieces. There isn’t even a charge.”

Liberman described what occurred as an “absurd spectacle, ” and accused the Minister of defense as being “absolutely terrible – a military investigator said that he is forbidden from seeing the findings of the operational investigation which just yesterday Ya’alon elaborated on from the Knesset podium. I don’t trust Ya’alon. Against the law and against orders, he detailed the findings of the investigation, and involved himself in the legal proceedings. Ya’alon also committed a grave offense, and is now trying to save himself.”

 

On the heels of the storm of public criticism due to the hearing, hundreds of supporters of the soldier protested outside of the courthouse. There was even a group of Beitar Jerusalem fans who came, who called for “the release of the hero.” At one point, a drum was taken from them, and chaos ensued.

Protestors who arrived from Rishon LeZion said “what is happening to the boy and to his parents hurts us. We are former IDF women, I served 22 years. But they’re doing an injustice to this boy. They wouldn’t even do this to someone who shoots at a girl in a central bus station (referring to this incident in Afula). Why are they doing this to him? They didn’t even investigate anything. Those people come with knives in order to kill, so what should we expect?”

On Friday, the day of the initial arrest, the prosecutor announced at the Military Court in Jaffa that the soldier in question was under suspicion of murder. He was quoted as saying that he believed that the terrorist was wearing an explosive vest and might activate it. However, IDF claims that both of the terrorists were checked after being neutralized.

Via Ynet News, by Yoav Zitun, Reut Rimerman

 

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