Yosef Ben David, currently serving a life sentence, was the ringleader of the group which killed Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Supreme Court on Monday heard the appeals of the three murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir against their convictions and sentences.
In May 2016, the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Yosef Haim Ben-David to life in prison plus 20 years for being the ringleader in the murder of the 16-year-old Arab from Shuafat in east Jerusalem on July 2, 2014.
In February 2016, the same court sentenced two minors who had already been convicted of assisting Ben-David with the murder – one to life in prison and one to 21 years in prison.
Abu Khdeir was abducted, burned and brutally murdered on July 2, 2014, after being kidnapped by Ben-David and the two minors.
Ben-David’s appeal focused on trying to get the Supreme Court to accept an insanity plea, which the lower court had rejected.
His lawyer argued that the lower court had confused Ben-David’s ability to factually size up his environment with disproving his insanity plea, when they had brought a psychologist who said Ben-David was going through a psychotic episode both during the murder and when he retold the murder story to investigators.
The justices did not even attempt to filter their skepticism. Justice Uri Shoham said, “Doesn’t this narrative seem to you like fantasy?”
Next, Ben-David’s lawyer tried to raise questions about the psychologist’s opinion the state provided, arguing he was sane. The state had submitted the opinion late and defensively, showing it was invalid, he said.
Justice Yitzhak Amit responded: “You are exhibiting a kind of audacity to make this argument. The defense only presented the defense [of insanity] one week before the verdict.”
The two minors’ appeals focused on the idea that they had intended only to kidnap or rough up Abu Khdeir and had no idea that Ben-David planned to kill him.
Justice George Kara and the other justices pressed the minors’ lawyers on this point, noting one of them even assisted in burning Abu Khdeir while he was still alive.
One of the minor’s lawyers responded that they thought he was dead by the time he was being burned. In other words, they wanted the court to accept that the minors did not know there was an intention to kill and that assisting with burning only occurred when they thought they were burning a dead body.
Lawyer Mohaned Jabarah, representing Abu Khdeir’s family, said they had hoped to hear “the murderers express regret, lower their heads and go to serve the sentences imposed on them.” But instead “they have filed appeals, second to none in audacity, that have no place, especially taking into account their grave crimes and the great tragedy they brought on the family.”