Border cop, jailed over killing of Palestinian teen, seeks presidential pardon
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Border cop, jailed over killing of Palestinian teen, seeks presidential pardon

Attorney for Ben Deri notes he received the same 18 months behind bars as IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter and never expressed regret

Border Police officer Ben Deri, who was later convicted of killing a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager during riots in the West Bank town of Betunia in 2014, covers his face as he walks into a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on December 7, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Border Police officer Ben Deri, who was later convicted of killing a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager during riots in the West Bank town of Betunia in 2014, covers his face as he walks into a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on December 7, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Border Police officer convicted of causing the death by negligence of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 has submitted a request to President Reuven Rivlin for a pardon, noting he was handed the same sentence as an IDF soldier who was convicted of the more serious offense of manslaughter of a Palestinian attacker.

Ben Deri was convicted under a plea bargain in April and handed a nine-month sentence for using live ammunition instead of rubber bullets when breaking up a demonstration in the West Bank village of Beitunia, during which he fatally shot 17-year-old Palestinian Nadeem Siam Nawara in the chest.

The Supreme Court in August doubled the length of Deri’s prison term, arguing the original sentence didn’t reflect the severity of his actions.

Deri’s attorney, Zion Amir, filed the request for a pardon on his behalf earlier in the week, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday.

Amir cited the case of Elor Azaria, a former Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter and went to prison for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker during his military service in the West Bank city of Hebron, the report said.

Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron, appears before a parole board in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters on March 14, 2018. (Flash90)

Azaria served nine months of what was initially an 18-month prison term for killing Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli soldier and had already been subdued. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot later shortened the sentence by four months, making Azaria eligible for parole after completing two-thirds of what had become a 14-month prison sentence. An army prison parole board then set him free in May.

“Under several considerations of grace and decency, it is impossible to ignore the sentence of Sergeant Elor Azaria, whose case is even more serious and yet he was sentenced to the same punishment — 18 months prison,” Amir wrote.

“Sgt. Azaria did not show remorse for his actions, while my client took responsibility for his actions and expressed deep regret,” he added.

Amir also noted his clients client’s excellent service record and that he did not intend to kill Nawara, Hadashot news reported.

A police investigation into the shooting found that Deri, 21 at the time of the incident, confirmed that he had used a live round rather than nonlethal munitions.

Nawara’s family had previously vowed to use every means possible to see justice served, including an appeal to the International Criminal Court.

Azaria, the Hebron shooter, has never expressed remorse for his actions. He has maintained that he opened fire because he believed Sharif had a bomb hidden under his clothes. A military court, however, dismissed that claim, citing the soldier’s nonchalance in the moments before he killed Sharif, and his statements to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die for attacking his comrades.

The Hebron shooter case revealed deep divisions in Israeli society over the army’s activities in the West Bank, with some — mostly on the right — arguing that he had behaved heroically in killing the Palestinian assailant, while others said he had broken the law and deserved a harsher sentence than he received.

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