A military court on Sunday postponed a discussion on a potential plea deal in the case of an Israel Defense Forces officer on trial for 79 counts of sex offenses, in order to allow his victims to express their opinions on the agreement.
Lt. Col. Dan Sharoni was indicted in December for filming dozens of his female subordinates while they were nude without their knowledge, and collecting sexual images of soldiers and some civilians over the course of at least eight years.
Arriving in court on Sunday, military prosecutors were expected to present a plea deal signed with Sharoni that would see the officer demoted to the rank of private and require him to pay compensation to the 49 victims totaling NIS 250,000 ($72,000).
Prosecutors have also demanded he be jailed for a number of years, though this may be replaced by house arrest or parole, subject to a risk assessment and any potential future rehabilitation programs.
The IDF has said prosecutors updated the victims on the plea deal, the majority of whom, 29, supported it. But the court decided to postpone the discussion until August 8, allowing Sharoni’s victims to study the plea deal and voice their position on it after they have had a chance to read it in detail.
“The victims have claimed that their right to voice their opinion on the plea deal, after its various components were clarified, has been compromised,” said the presiding judge, Col. Tali Fried, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
“Some of the victims have said they were not provided with the details of the agreement and were not given the opportunity to voice their opinion about it. As such, both sides have agreed not to present the plea deal during today’s discussion,” she added.
The ruling came after dozens of Sharoni’s victims and their families arrived in court on Sunday to confront him.
“I only have one thing to tell you — you may be able to do whatever you want to in this court but in the tribunal above God won’t come to your defense for even a moment, I promise you. God sees everything,” one of the victims shouted at Sharoni.
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Efrat Nahmany-Bar, an attorney who represents one of the victims, criticized the military prosecution for not being transparent enough with Sharoni’s victims throughout the trial.
“It took us a long time to realize what was going on because the prosecution didn’t bother updating us,” she said.
Responding on behalf of the prosecution, Maj. Gali Katalan said she understood the frustration felt by victims and had tried to take them into consideration when finalizing the details of the plea deal with Sharoni.
“The victims’ claims are legitimate and understandable… We feel their pain. I can only admire their courage and willingness to partake in the legal process and cooperate in the investigation as they have so far. We considered the victims’ position and decided to alter some of the plea deal’s details regarding the compensation as a result of their request,” Katalan said.
After news broke of the deal signed between the prosecution and Sharoni last week, it sparked a public outcry as it meant Sharoni could still benefit from the military’s generous military pension plan
However, the IDF soon clarified that “the plea deal does not include an agreement regarding the payment of the retirement pension,” adding that IDF chief Aviv Kohavi was likely to deny Sharoni the pension package.
According to the December indictment, Sharoni used a variety of hidden cameras, including some placed inside phone chargers, to film soldiers under his command, often installing them in their barracks and showers. He was also accused of taking soldiers’ phones for seemingly innocuous reasons and looking through them to see if they had nude or intimate photos on them and then copying them to his own device.
The indictment lists 49 victims, both female and male, though there may have been others. The majority were soldiers, though he also installed the devices in homes, including his own, and thus also filmed civilians. In addition, he was accused of entering some of his victims’ rooms while they slept and masturbating while filming them.
According to the charge sheet, Sharoni committed his crimes from 2013 to 2021, while he served in three different units in the military. In many of the cases, the victims were soldiers and officers with whom Sharoni had close relationships.
Sharoni has been dismissed from his position and has been in jail since his arrest in November.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.