Prison sentence of Akiva HaCohen reduced by third, despite opposition of Prison Service

Tuesday, July 23, 10:47 The Be’er Sheva District Court ruled on the morning of Tuesday, July 23 on the petition filed by Honenu and reduced by one third the prison sentence of Akiva HaCohen, despite the opposition of the Israeli Prison Service. HaCohen was detained in December of 2011 and convicted in what came to be know as the “spy case”. The petition of an additional prisoner in the case was rejected. Akiva HaCohen, was detained in December of 2011 and released to house arrest on the 10th of that month along with four other men. The initial charge was espionage however the Attorney General’s office later came to the understanding that the charge was baseless, retracted it and they were charged under the legal clause of “collecting information of military value” which dates back to the days of the British Mandate and had not been used against Jews since the founding of the State of Israel. The men were accused by the State of Israel of operating a “command center” from which demonstrations designed to thwart the evacuation of outposts were organized The five were accused of compiling and relaying information about IDF and police troop movements in an effort to thwart the destruction of hilltop communities in the Shomron region. Due to information relayed by the group a destruction was thwarted. One of the incidents which led to foiling the destruction was the break-in of dozens of yeshiva students to the Ephraim Brigade base during a protest against the destruction. HaCohen and Ephraim Haikin were sentenced to three months of active prison sentence from which the time they spent in remand would be reduced. At the end of two thirds of their sentence the two filed a request to the Prison Service to reduce their sentence by a third. The request met with refusal by the representative of the Prison Service. On the morning of Tuesday, July 23 a deliberation took place on the petition filed by Honenu attorney Adi Kedar with the Be’er Sheva District Court. The judges accepted Kedar’s plea and ruled that HaCohen’s sentence would be released by a third following HaCohen’s affidavit that he did not know that his actions constituted a violation of the law. HaCohen will apparently be released later the same day. The petition filed by Haikin was later retracted by him by recommendation of the court after he refused to cooperate with the court. Consequently Haikin will fulfill three more weeks of his prison sentence. In response to the release of his client, Akiva HaCohen, Honenu attorney Adi Kedar said that, “Alongside the satisfaction with the decision to release Akiva HaCohen, in opposition to the decision of the Prison Service’s representative, the scandalous conduct of the various branches of the government of Israel which opposed in an unprofessional and erroneous manner the release of the two defendants, remains. The Be’er District Court has given its ruling and shown that the decision of the Prison Service is baseless.”

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