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Prosecution, defense fail to reach plea bargain in Elor Azarya case

June 5, 2017 10:20 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2017 10:56 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A mediation process in the case of Israeli soldier Elor Azarya, who was sentenced in February to 18 months in prison for the filmed, execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Palestinian Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, has failed to yield a plea bargain, Israeli media reported on Monday.

Azarya’s defense team has appealed both the manslaughter conviction and the 18-month jail sentence for being too harsh, while the Israeli military prosecution has submitted an appeal to increase the sentence.

According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, the chief military prosecutor in charge in the case did not reach an agreement with Azarya’s lawyers, with the Israeli army saying that “substantial gaps” remained between the two sides, leaving the decision regarding Azarya’s sentencing up to the military appeals court.

The argument behind the prosecution's appeal was that Azarya’s sentence was not congruent with the ruling of the judges, who had given a detailed refutation of nearly every claim made by the defense team when they convicted him, and accepted the prosecution’s argument that the soldier committed an unjustified revenge killing.

Prior to the sentencing, the case had already been denounced as a “show trial” for focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces, as Azarya was charged with manslaughter for what was termed by rights groups as an “extrajudicial execution” and by the victim’s family as “cold-blooded murder.”

Following the announcement of the 18-month sentence, the al-Sharif family said they were "not surprised" about the lenient sentence -- noting that the soldier received less prison time than a Palestinian child would for throwing stones.

Al-Sharif was shot and seriously wounded after allegedly stabbing another Israeli soldier, and after he was left bleeding on the ground for some ten minutes, Azarya shot him in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying "This dog is still alive" and "This terrorist deserves to die" before he pulled the trigger.

Azarya was the only member of Israeli forces to be charged with killing a Palestinian in 2016 -- when at least 109 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces and settlers -- according to Human Rights Watch.

According to rights group Yesh Din, of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.
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