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Israeli officer acquitted over fatal shooting of Palestinian boy

Oct. 31, 2012 9:23 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 1, 2012 4:37 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli court on Tuesday acquitted an Israeli police officer accused of fatally shooting a 10-year-old Palestinian boy.

Israeli border police officer Omri Abu was charged with negligent manslaughter for shooting Ahmad Musa in his forehead, killing him instantly, during a July 2008 demonstration against the separation wall in Nilin.

Abu was acquitted on Tuesday when an Israeli judge ruled that the prosecution had not proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that the bullet he fired hit Abu Musa, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Judge Liora Frenkel also said there were contradictions in evidence presented by the prosecution, including witness statements. She also said Israeli police had submitted evidence without bringing expert testimony to support its claims.

Abu was convicted of misusing his weapon by opening fire even though he was not in danger, Haaretz said. He had also lied to police, initially denying opening fire, and tried to conceal evidence.

The officer insisted that he was in danger when he opened fire because protesters were throwing stones at the bullet-proof army vehicle he was driving.

"Even in a bulletproof car, you have to respond. If they see you don't respond, it can be perceived as weakness," Abu told the court.

At Musa's funeral, Israeli forces opened fire and shot 19-year-old Yousif Amira in the head. He later died in hospital from his injuries.

An investigation by human rights group Al-Haq found that Musa had been hiding in an olive grove when a border police officer saw the 10-year-old, left his vehicle, aimed his rifle and fired at the boy from a distance of 50 meters.

Al-Haq says officers also opened fire on two demonstrators who tried to carry the boy to safety.

The rights group noted that villagers had organized the demonstration in the evening on July 29, 2008, rather than the daytime, because Israeli soldiers would not be present so it would be safe for children to participate. However, the border police force quickly arrived in the village.

Israel rarely indicts members of its armed forces for killing Palestinians.

Between September 2000 and December 2011, B'Tselem reported to Israeli authorities 473 cases of security forces using violence against Palestinians.

Only 19 cases ever led to an indictment, one of which was withdrawn.

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