State prosecutors are seeking a life sentence and an additional 60 years for Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man convicted of murdering 16-year-old Shira Banki at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last year.
At a sentencing hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday, lead prosecutor Oshrat Shoham also requested Schlissel be ordered to pay restitution to the Banki family and the other victims of his stabbing spree.
“The defendant pulled out the knife calmly, and cruelly stabbed his victims with a thirst for murder and death,” Shoham told the court.
“The defendant committed acts that go against the values of freedom that the State of Israel is founded upon, and destroyed the sense of security of the general public and the LGBT community in particular,” she said.
Shoham went on to explain that the sentence sought by the prosecution intended to be a “punishment that reflects the sanctity of all life.”
On July 30, 2015, Schlissel killed Banki and injured six others, despite a heavy police presence at the parade. Banki died of her wounds three days later.
Schlissel had been released from prison weeks earlier, after serving 10 years in prison for a similar but not-fatal attack at the 2005 gay pride parade. Days before the stabbing, Schlissel penned a handwritten anti-gay manifesto in which he called the pride march “shameful” and “blasphemous,” and alluded to plans to perpetrate another attack.
During Thursday’s conviction hearing, the Jerusalem District Court reprimanded police for failing to prevent Schlissel from arriving at the parade.
Schlissel broke his silence in court for the first time on Thursday, explaining that religious fervor drove him to carry out his crime.
“The parade is what brings the terror attacks and the intifadas down on us, it’s what causes God’s wrath,” he told the court. “I strive to act out of my love for God, and gay pride parades are a source of hatred toward God and toward the Jewish people.”
Schlissel went on to say that participants in gay pride parades “know full well they are taking part in the desecration of God’s name.
“Every good Jew needs to know if he is loyal to the King of Kings, or if he will fall into the net of those acting against God, who are the devil,” he said.
At Schlissel’s request, his attorney, public defender Zachary Schenkolewski, did not address the court during the hearing.
Schlissel did not cooperate with police during the course of their investigation, and had remained silent during all of his previous court appearances.
After his arrest, Schlissel repeatedly refused legal counsel, saying he did not recognize the legal standing of the court since it does not abide by Jewish law. Nonetheless, Schenkolewski was appointed to represent him in court.
A court-ordered psychiatric examination carried out earlier this year found Schlissel fit to stand trial.
In April, Schlissel, 40, was convicted of Banki’s murder, six counts of attempted murder for the injuries he caused other people during the attack, as well as aggravated assault.
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