THE FATHER of convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria (center) prays behind him in a military court during a remand hearing for his case last March.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF has committed a criminal offense by urging Sgt. Elora Azaria’s father not to appeal the former Kfir Brigade medic’s conviction in the hopes of strengthening his chances for a pardon, Azaria’s lawyers say.
On Monday, Charlie Azaria met with Kfir Brigade commander Col. Guy Hazut, who urged him not to appeal his son’s manslaughter conviction, and to replace his defense attorneys, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday evening.
Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter last week by the Kirya Military Court in Tel Aviv, in the shooting of incapacitated Palestinian terrorist Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron last March. He is due to be sentenced on Sunday.
Azaria’s defense attorneys, Eyal Besserglick and Ilan Katz, have complained to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, saying that the meeting Hazut’s request was “faulty and outrageous conduct that crosses every line and seemingly violate the law.”
“We discovered to our amazement that improper contacts were made by senior IDF persons... with the father of our client in order to cause him to replace his attorney and likewise to refrain from a future appeal in this case, while also making various assurances – things that could allegedly be a criminal offense,” the letter to Liberman read.
According to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson, the objective of the meeting was not to discuss the sentencing, but to inquire regarding any aid that the family might require.
“The IDF wants to make clear that it will not detail the content of the meeting that took place between the family of Sgt. Elor Azaria and his commander, but denies the incorrect report on Channel 2 that suggested an offer was made to lighten the punishment, or concerning the appeal, or any other involvement in the legal process,” the army said. “The IDF Spokesperson would like to stress that Sgt. Elor Azaria is entitled to a clean legal process that is free of pressures, and in which he is dealt with by his commanders in a regular manner like any other IDF soldier.”
On Tuesday, Liberman took to his Facebook page calling on those who support Azaria to “keep quiet,” as they are doing more harm than good.
“We all know that on one hand there’s a decorated soldier and on the other there’s a terrorist who came to kill Jews. We’re doing everything to safeguard both the ethics of the IDF and the soldier Azaria. Anything else only hurts,” he wrote.