Yishai Schlissel, who killed a participant in Jerusalem’s pride parade, was convicted on Tuesday of murder, six counts of attempted murder and one count of causing extreme bodily harm.
The Jerusalem District Court’s three-judge panel of Nava Ben-Or, Refael Yacobi and Arnon Darel, wrote that Schlissel, “in a dark and cruel act, has extinguished the light of her [Shira Banki’s] life,” ending “her dreams and hopes.”
The stabbings garnered across-the-board condemnations, including from Orthodox figures, and drew international attention due to the ferocity of the attack.
Schlissel, who was previously imprisoned for 10 years for stabbing three people at the 2005 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, was arrested during the stabbing rampage, just weeks after being released from jail.
The indictment stated that leading up to the parade, Schlissel had called on ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Modi’in Illit to take action against it, and that on the day of the parade he purchased a 15 cm.-long kitchen knife for the purpose of stabbing participants.
He killed 16-year-old Banki and wounded six others – Yarden Noy, Kfir Gil, Noam Eyal, Yael Belkin, Sagiv Satkolshtick and Sheli Bar Niv.
Eyal and Bar Niv attended the verdict and spoke to the media afterward.
Eyal said, “I came to see exactly what charges he’d be convicted of. Jail did not do the job the first time... he’s a danger to the public... the more charges he is convicted of the safer it is for the public.”
Bar Niv stated that they “hope he will not see the light of day again... I feel calmer that he will not be able to attend another parade.”
The court also criticized the police for allowing him to get to the point where he could go on his stabbing rampage.
According to the court, “From the evidence it is clear that the police was aware of the danger posed by the accused, who was released only shortly before the parade. The unconscionable ease with which the accused managed to penetrate and reach the marchers so that he could perpetrate his scheme until he was arrested, is inconceivable.
“He arrived at a police checkpoint that was placed at the beginning of Lincoln Street and all that was done was giving him a general order to leave the area,” said the court, noting that the police had not properly learned the lessons of the 2005 attack.
Schlissel eventually managed to launch his attack, after joining the parade from a different street.
Police intelligence “was not used wisely... the writing was on the wall, but those responsible to stop it did not read it,” the court concluded regarding the police’s conduct.
The court also made a plea to the Knesset to pass a law creating controls that the state can place on certain violent convicts even after they are released.
It stated that unlike with sexual offenders, where their release even after the end of their prison time can have restrictions about being under supervision and in a rehabilitation program, there is no legal power to impose such measures on non-sexual but extremely violent offenders like Schlissel – a situation that must be fixed.
The prosecution’s first witness when the trial started months ago was Eran Tzidkiyahu who testified about having witnessed Schlissel’s carnage and stated that if he had not been ultra-Orthodox, he would have been shot on the spot as soon as security noticed he was holding a knife.
“A month and a half later, every person who unsheathes a knife, they shoot him even after he ceases to present a threat to civilians,” he said.
In his opening statement, Schlissel’s lawyer, public defender Zecharyah Shinkolovsk, tried to argue that he had not intended to murder the people he attacked even if he might have intended to harm them on some lesser level.
Prosecution lawyer Oshrat Shoham disputed this argument, noting that Schlissel had not given a detailed written denial to the indictment and that they would call witnesses showing that the fashion in which Schlissel attacked was violent and with intent to murder.
From the arraignment in September and through Tuesday’s verdict, Schlissel continued a position of refusing to recognize the court’s authority, stating in September “God, the creator of the world, did not give you authority to judge me, and so I am not interested in asking questions or responding to them.”
When the court asked him to stand at the first hearing – as is customary when addressing the court – he refused, stating, “I am not interested in getting up.”
Despite Schlissel’s continued refusal to agree to have the Public Defender’s Office represent him, or to accept any legal representation, the court in September ordered the public defender present to continue to speak for him in court.
Schlissel has refused legal representation since he considers that it would be an acknowledgment of the validity of the court proceedings against him.
On Tuesday, Schlissel essentially ignored the court throughout the hearing, averting his eyes from the judges and those in attendance, appearing to stare at the floor virtually motionless and emotionless throughout.
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