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Israeli army prosecutors appeal 'lenient' sentence for Hebron shooter Azaria

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in jail by a military court in Tel Aviv, on February 21, 2017
AFP
Military Advocate General appeals sentence, arguing it does not match the judges' critical ruling in the case

Israel's military prosecutors filed an appeal Tuesday of the 'lenient' 18-month prison sentence handed down to Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for the fatal shooting of a disarmed and wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last year.

Prosecutors, who had requested a three-to-five year prison term, argued that the sentence "significantly deviates" from what is expected, given the seriousness of the offense and the judges' harsh and critical ruling in the case.

They asked that Azaria be given a sentence of 30 months to five years imprisonment.

The appeal was submitted by the Military Advocate General on Tuesday, one day before the 15-day deadline by which an appeal sentencing may be filed.

Azaria's attorney last week filed, on behalf of the soldier, an appeal of both Azaria's sentence and manslaughter conviction. The beginning of his prison sentence was delayed until that appeal has been processed.

DEBBIE HILL (POOL/AFP)

The prosecution argued in its appeal that the lenient sentence may convey a negative message to soldiers and undermine the seriousness of the offense and verdict, and "could be interpreted as setting a new bar for punishment, lower than previously accepted for such offenses."

Prosecutors said that the punishment should be reconsidered on the grounds that one of the court's judges, though he was in the minority opinion, believed Azaria should face a harsher penalty.

"For the minority of justices, the accused's case illustrates the the need for continually highlighting the high values ​​which soldiers should strive while performing their duties, even if the case involves complex operational circumstances," the lead judge in the controversial trial, Col. Maya Heller, said during sentencing last month.

Heller said that the majority of judges believed that the appropriate range of punishment was between 18 and 48 months. Despite ruling that Azaria had violated the sanctity of life, had used his weapon in an unlawful manner, and that there had been no justification for the shooting, the court opted for a sentence on the lower side of the relevant range.

Azaria's conviction has deeply divided Israeli public opinion between those who believe he was wrongly tried and those who say the conviction was the right and proper consequence of his actions.

According to a survey conducted by Israel's Channel 2 in January, some 67 percent of Israelis said they supported clemency for Azaria, while 19 percent did not.

An official bid for pardon, which would be considered by President Reuven Rivlin, may only be submitted by Azaria or his lawyers. Rivlin has already indicated that he would not consider a pardon until Azaria's defense team has completed the appeals process.

See also:

- Netanyahu in favor of pardoning IDF soldier Azaria after manslaughter sentencing

- UN slams 'excessively lenient' sentence given to Israeli soldier over killing

- Right calls for immediate pardon, left says sentence 'embarrassing'

- After sentencing, slain Palestinian's family says soldier's trial was sham

Comments

(1)

reminds me of germany . . . . . were not the germans who masacred 6.000.000 jews?

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