Clemency request for border policeman Ben Deri

Thursday, October 4, 2018, 20:40 Recently, in a letter to President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Attorney Tzion Amir requested a pardon for border policeman Ben Deri, whose prison sentence was recently doubled from nine to eighteen months. The case involves an incident which occurred on Naqba Day in May 2014. In the course of an operational activity quelling mass disturbances, Ben Deri, a border policeman, caused the death of a rioter near the town of Beitunia. He was convicted of manslaughter and following an appeal by the State of Israel his sentence was doubled. Attorney Amir opened his letter with a description of Ben Deri: “My client was an exemplary border policeman, who acted with a sense of mission, and dedication to and love of the Land of Israel throughout his entire service. My client carried out his duties with the understanding that at any time he was liable to end his life defending his anguished, beaten, battered homeland which has been under existential threat for generations against bitter enemies who threaten to annihilate it and harm Zionist existence in the Land of Israel.” Attorney Amir added a reference to Deuteronomy and a commentary: “Our rabbis have learnt and said: ‘And you will love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul’ (Deut. 6:5). ‘With all your soul’ should be interpreted as ‘Even if your life is taken’ (R. Akiva). Ben Deri loved his country and his homeland with all his soul, even at the price of losing his life.” The request includes an assertion that, “It is not fitting, not right and not just that the same State for which Ben Deri was willing to risk his life is that which is depriving him of his freedom. And that was by a court appeal, which is not supposed to hand down the maximum penalty to defendants, whoever they may be, and the situation is all the more true in this case.” Amir wrote the request to President Rivlin in light of the circumstances of the incident, which occurred during an army operation, the personal circumstances of Ben Deri and the serious travesty of justice which was caused to him when his prison sentence was doubled a matter of days before he would have completed his original sentence. “[The circumstances] justify and even obligate the Honorable President to use his legal authority to pardon him so that he will be immediately released to his home, to return to his shattered and devastated family.” Amir concluded with: “In a plea, my client has pinned his hopes on his Honor, the President, to use his authority mercifully and to pardon him, on the eve of Yom Kippur, which symbolizes the fundamental principles of forgiveness, absolution and atonement.” Additionally Amir mentioned the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Founding of the State of Israel, during which President Rivlin pardoned various criminals, and requested that the same principles of clemency be applied to Ben Deri. Amir concluded his request in the spirit of the High Holidays: “And now, moments before closure [reference to the Yom Kippur ne’ila prayer], we request and petition his Honor, the President, to picture the life of the supplicant [Ben Deri], his good deeds, his good intentions, his dedication and willingness to risk his life for his people and his country, and the great sorrow and regret he explicitly and honestly stated before the honored court and the family of the deceased, and to reduce [Ben Deri’s] penalty as you see fit.” Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, the director of Honenu, whose staff has been assisting Ben Deri’s family with legal counsel, stated that, “We must understand the emotions a soldier who is attacked every day by rioters goes through. The great understanding given to the rioters, who know that they can denigrate soldiers and policeman, and injure them, affects the mood of the security forces. We must stand by them and be a support system. “I call on President Rivlin and [Justice] Minister [Ayelet] Shaked to accede to the request for clemency, and to pardon Ben Deri, an exemplary border policeman who risked his life for all of us. He and his family have found themselves already for a long time behind bars, experiencing unimaginable suffering, shared by all of us, because Ben Deri is as a son to all of us.”

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