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Israeli Supreme Court sets date to rule on plea deal for Nadim Nuwara's killer

June 19, 2017 5:12 P.M. (Updated: June 20, 2017 11:42 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Relatives of a Palestinian teenager shot and killed by an Israeli border police officer in 2014 said on Sunday that an Israeli Supreme Court hearing date was set to appeal the sentence levied against the officer in the case.

A plea deal reached in December saw border police unit commander Ben Dery admit to “mistakenly” firing a live bullet at 17-year-old Nadim Siyam Nuwara during a rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba in May 2014 outside of the Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank, hitting Nadim in the back and killing him.

Another teenager, 15-year-old Muhammad Odeh Abu al-Thahir, was also killed during the same 2014 protest. Both Nuwara and Abu al-Thahir’s deaths were captured on video, showing that they did not constitute a threat at the time of their deaths.

As a result of the plea deal, Dery was only convicted of negligent death and aggravated assault, as part of a new indictment in which Dery’s lawyers, who work with the Honenu organization providing legal protection to Israeli right-wing extremists, argued that a live bullet accidentally fell in Dery’s firearm’s magazine instead of a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Nadim’s father, Siyam Nuwara, said that the Israeli Supreme Court would issue a final ruling on the case on Sept. 27, after the Nuwara family appealed the plea deal.

Nuwara has repeatedly denounced the agreement between the prosecution and the defense, rejecting the claim that Dery accidentally shot his son with a live bullet, and accusing Dery of covering up his actions.

“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 Dery is the murderer,” Nuwara told Israel’s Channel 2 in November. “We don’t need a plea bargain; we have 70 witnesses that were there, and hard evidence.”

According to Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP), Dery’s trial, which has dragged on for more than two years, witnessed around 50 delayed and cancelled hearings. The first judge appointed to the case was dismissed due to personal ties with a witness to the killing, and the appointment of a replacement judge also suffered from serious delays.

A joint investigation by Israeli rights group B’Tselem and Hamoked in 2016 reported that Israel’s court system routinely postpones or slows down investigations regarding violations against Palestinians, with the intent of pushing families or individuals to eventually drop their cases.

The Israeli court system has received international criticism for its longstanding policy of immunity for Israeli forces, while Palestinians hold widespread distrust for the system.

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