Military appeals court upholds Azaria manslaughter conviction, sentence

JTA

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A military appeals court upheld the manslaughter conviction and 18-month prison sentence for Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of shooting a downed Palestinian terrorist.

The panel of five judges on Sunday handed down the ruling, which took more than two hours to read out.

The judges rejected the defense’s arguments and new information in its request to overturn the conviction, saying in the ruling that Azaria’s “manner was more suitable for a shooting range than the scene of a terror attack.”  The judges also noted that Azaria never expressed remorse for his actions.

The judges also upheld the 18-month prison sentence, which the prosecution appealed saying it was too lenient.

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Azaria, who was convicted in January and sentenced in February, was confined to the closed Nachshonim military base since being arrested in March 2016. However, when his military service ended last week he left the base for house arrest.


A medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, Azaria came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in Hebron in the West Bank on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.

Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif. Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.

Following the appeals court verdict, several Israeli government ministers called for Azaria to be pardoned, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev, a former IDF spokesman.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also supported a pardon for Azaria, as he did in January following the original verdict. In a tweet following the verdict Netanyahu wrote: ““My opinion has not changed on the question of granting a pardon to Elor Azaria, as I expressed it after the conviction in January. When the subject comes up during pardon deliberations, I will offer my recommendation for a pardon to the relevant authorities.”

דעתי לא השתנתה בדבר מתן חנינה לאלאור אזריה, כפי שהבעתי אותה לאחר הכרעת הדין בחודש ינואר. כשהנושא יעלה לדיון מעשי אני אעביר את המלצתי לחנינה לגורמים הרלוונטיים.

Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו‎ on Sunday, July 30, 2017

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