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Father of murdered Arab teen lambastes court for delaying conviction

Politicians join in criticizing decision to hold off on convicting Yosef Haim Ben David for grisly murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir

The parents and sister of Muhammed Abu Khdeir attend the Jerusalem District Court during the trial discussion on the murder of Abu Khdeir, on June 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The parents and sister of Muhammed Abu Khdeir attend the Jerusalem District Court during the trial discussion on the murder of Abu Khdeir, on June 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The father of a Palestinian teen kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish terrorists last year said the delay in convicting the main suspect was a “crime,” and his long-delayed insanity defense was being used to mislead the court.

The Jerusalem District court on Monday morning convicted two minors in the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, but held back from convicting main suspect Yosef Haim Ben David, though it found him guilty in the grisly 2014 killing.

The move followed the filing by Ben David’s lawyers of papers claiming that he suffered from insanity.

“The trial has been carrying on for so long and only now Yosef Haim Ben David brought the evaluation saying he was crazy? He is clearly misleading the court,” Hussein Abu Khdeir said. “What I saw today [in court] was utterly meaningless.”

He added that the delay was a “crime that must not take place in a court of law.”

Court officials said they will discuss the psychological evaluation later this month and will only then issue a final verdict.

Sentencing is slated to take place early next year.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh also criticized the postponement of Ben David’s conviction.

“As often in the past, when the murderers are Jews, law enforcement authorities protect the killers,” Channel 2 quoted him as saying.

“In one case you can’t reveal their names, and in another it turns out they are mentally ill. The state is sending a clear message of understanding and tolerance for Jewish terrorism. All civilians, Palestinians and Jews alike, should be extracted out of the cycle of violence and murder,” he added.

Abu Khdeir was kidnapped from a street in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat early on the morning of July 2, 2014, taken to a forest, beaten and then burned alive, investigators said.

The three perpetrators, who all confessed to the crime, said they did so as revenge for the killings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank the month before.

Joint List MK Dov Khenin said on Monday that the convictions should start a process of soul-searching for Israeli society

“We cannot let the Abu Khdeir murder case end with the court’s verdict this morning, without serious soul-searching, without practical steps against the engines of racist hatred, organizations like Lehava and their ilk. It is regrettable that since the murder took place the government has not make any real steps against the campaign of violence and incitement by the radical right wing,” Khenin said, referring to a far-right Jewish group seen as behind several anti-Arab attacks.

Writing on Facebook before the conviction was announced, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said the court’s decision would be “a supreme test of our court system and democracy – the murderers are the enemies of the state. Murdering a person in cold blood for being an Arab is a particularly severe crime against Judaism and against democracy. It is our duty to erect a dam against racism and hatred, especially at this time.”

Gadi Gevaryahu, who heads the Tag Meir anti-racism NGO, called the postponing of Ben David’s conviction “disappointing.”

“The [law] enforcement systems in Israel are not doing enough to stop Jewish terrorism. This non-conviction joins the legal system’s reluctance to put to trial the killers of the Dawabsha family, whose identities are known to the defense establishment,” he told the NRG website.

Three members of the Dawabsha family from the village of Duma in the West Bank were killed after their home was firebombed presumably by Jewish terrorists on the last day of July this year.

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