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Father of slain Palestinian teen pans plea deal for cop

Family of Nadeem Siam Nawara threatens to go to international court over agreement that would see Ben Deri charged with wrongful death

Screen capture showing the moments after a Palestinian teenager was fatally shot, allegedly by a border policeman during Nakba Day disturbances, May 15, 2014. (YouTube/Defence for Children Palestine)
Screen capture showing the moments after a Palestinian teenager was fatally shot, allegedly by a border policeman during Nakba Day disturbances, May 15, 2014. (YouTube/Defence for Children Palestine)

The father of a Palestinian teenager allegedly shot dead by a Border Police officer during a 2014 West Bank protest said Monday he would not accept an emerging plea deal over the killing, and vowed to use every means possible to see justice served, including an appeal to the International Criminal Court.

An agreement has reportedly been reached on a wrongful death charge for border policeman Ben Deri. The policeman is accused of using live ammunition instead of rubber bullets, causing the death of 17-year-old Nadeem Siam Nawara.

“There is a video that proves that it was murder in cold blood, and all the proof and the autopsy of the body say that Deri is the murderer,” Nawara’s father told Channel 2. “We don’t need a plea bargain, we have 70 witnesses that were there, and hard evidence.”

A police investigation into the shooting found that Deri, who was 21 at the time of the incident, had used a live round rather than the nonlethal munitions police were ordered to use to disperse a crowd of protesters during Nakba Day demonstrations in the West Bank village of Beitunia, near Ramallah.

Nawara was killed along with fellow protester Muhammad Abu Taher, 22. Deri was accused at the time of killing Nawara, and a video released following the incident appeared to show that the teen was shot while he was some distance from the demonstration and apparently posed no threat to Deri’s Border Police unit.

Ben Deri (c), accused of killing a 20-year old Palestinian man using live ammunition during clashes in Betunia in the West Bank, with lawyer Zion Amir (r), during his hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 07, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ben Deri (c), accused of killing a 20-year old Palestinian man using live ammunition during clashes in Betunia in the West Bank, with lawyer Zion Amir (r), during his hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on December 07, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Nidam said that should the plea deal go through it will forever tarnish the country’s justice system.

“It will prove that there is no justice in the Israeli legal system, it a mark of Cain on Israel,” he said. “I personally will try and deal with the matter via diplomatic means and I will appeal to the international court to get to the truth.”

Israel is not a party to the treaty that governs the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but the Palestinian Authority is a member.

The plea deal is expected to be finalized in the coming days once an agreement is reached over Deri’s sentence, Channel 2 reported Monday.

Deri, who was a commander in the unit, initially claimed that he had fired only rubber bullets. According to Monday’s report, he will now admit to firing a live bullet, but unintentionally, and will be convicted of a wrongful death charge. The new indictment prosecutors have offered to submit will argue that a live bullet accidentally fell into the magazine of Deri’s firearm alongside the rubber bullets, and Deri thought he was firing only nonlethal rounds.

According to Deri’s initial version of events, he used rubber bullets in accordance with received orders. However, the indictment claimed police had found evidence that Deri had allegedly intended to fire live ammunition at the back of the deceased, even though he posed no threat, with the explicit intent to cause serious harm and possible death. Deri is also accused of covering up his actions at the time.

Deri’s lawyer, Tzion Amir, of the Honenu legal rights group that defends right-wing extremists, negotiated the plea deal.

An autopsy performed by Palestinian and Israeli pathologists in 2014 found that Nawara was almost certainly killed by live fire, most likely from an IDF weapon. Two pathologists from the US and Denmark were in attendance during the autopsy, which took place at the Abu Dis Institute of Forensic Medicine in the West Bank.

An entry and exit wound were detected on the body, and shrapnel was also found, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

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