Supreme Court accepts AG’s last-minute appeal

Sunday, August 19, 14:15, 2018 On Sunday, August 19, the Supreme Court handed down a verdict doubling the sentence of border policeman Ben Deri from 9 to 18 months imprisonment. 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. See more here. Attorney Tzion Amir, who represented border policeman Ben Deri responded to the verdict: “The majority decision of the Supreme Court, which increased the stringency of the penalty for an outstanding soldier, who was sent by the State to guard the country’s borders and had to cope with a wave of rioters and an incited mob, who took the law into their own hands against our soldiers, threw rocks which threatened their lives, hurled smoke grenades, etc. – serious and severe acts – is a cause for deep sorrow.” Amir also stated that the verdict is liable to affect the performance of the soldiers: “I am concerned about the serious ramifications that the verdict is liable to have with regards to the motivation of soldiers, who from now on will unduly hesitate to open fire, which could lead to a decrease in their operational abilities. “One is consoled by the minority opinion of the verdict, that of the honorable Justice Yosef Elron, who did not hesitate to clearly, lucidly, and unequivocally make a statement when he spoke about the fact that the soldier was sent by the State to fulfill his task, when facing him was a wave of rioters who threw rocks at him. And what is most important, noted Justice Elron, is that it is not possible to examine according to laboratory conditions, while using hindsight, the discretion of a soldier under extraordinary circumstances, fraught with pressures such as this. “Justice Elron wrote clearly that the soldier did not have malicious intent, and therefore in his opinion there were grounds to reject the appeal filed by the State. Unfortunately this is the situation and we will have to cope with it in the future, in an endeavor to lighten the penalty, in the appropriate forum, perhaps in a request to the President.” Honenu director Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad, whose legal staff is assisting Ben Deri and his family, stated in response to the verdict that, “The indictment itself is an embarrassment and a disgrace, as is the appeal on the leniency of the penalty, which the State filed against a soldier who was sent to protect it, including its courts. This is ingratitude towards the soldier, both the appeal and the humiliating decision. One small consolation is the minority opinion of the justice, which is different than that of the two justices in the majority, having integrity and understanding of reality, and understanding of the public sphere, and esteem for the district court, which had weighed the relative importance of all of the evidence.” In an interview Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman leveled criticism at the Supreme Court Justices who had increased the penalty for the soldier from 9 to 18 months imprisonment: “Those who really fight terror every day, exposed to incitement, also have feelings. They are not robots. It may have been that under those operational conditions the soldier conducted himself not at his best. This does not mean that his penalty should be so stringent.”

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