Abu Khdeir murderers, state argue over their sentencing

The sentencing hearing was expected to be highly dynamic since normally convicted murderers get a full life prison sentence.

January 13, 2016 16:01
2 minute read.
Abu Khdeir

Muhammad Abu Khdeir. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Two of the three murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir and the state prosecution on Wednesday argued before the Jerusalem District Court about how much prison time they should receive for burning the Arab teen alive.

The sentencing hearing is expected to be highly dynamic, since normally convicted murderers get life sentences; but there was speculation that the convicted minors might get only 15 years or less, since they are underage and were under adult murderer Yosef Haim Ben-David’s influence.

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The session was held being closed doors, because the two murderers whose fate was being debated are minors. The court is to hand down sentences on February 4.

The murder’s ringleader, Ben-David, 30, has claimed insanity, a claim the court will hear on February 2.

On November 30, the threejudge panel found all three defendants guilty of murdering 16-year-old Abu Khdeir, but delayed convicting Ben-David after an unprecedented eleventh– hour insanity plea.

The court convicted the two minors – one from Jerusalem and one from Beit Shemesh, but whose names are under gag order – of murder, kidnapping and a range of other offenses, despite their protests that only Ben-David committed the murder, and that they only intended to rough up Abu Khdeir.

Abu Khdeir, from Shuafat in east Jerusalem, was abducted while waiting to enter a mosque and burned and brutally murdered on July 2, 2014.

News coverage of the slaying led to Arab riots throughout east Jerusalem and the rest of the country.

Ben-David and the two Jewish minors said they burned Abu Khdeir to death to avenge the murder of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014.

Following the indictment of the three, the Defense Ministry recommended recognizing Abu Khdeir as a victim of hostile action, granting his family identical compensation rights as the victims of Arab terrorism.

At the time, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein called the murder a “horrifying act,” and praised law enforcement for the swiftness with which the three defendants were arrested.

Throughout a year-long trial, Ben-David claimed insanity, but never filed a psychiatric report which could give his plea a chance.

Until the November 30 hearing, there was little doubt that Ben-David would be convicted by the three-judge panel of Jacob Zavan, Rivkah Friedman- Feldman and Rafi Carmel, with the insanity plea having nothing legal to stand on.

But right before the verdict, Ben-David’s lawyer, Asher Ohayon, shocked the courtroom by producing an insanity plea with a proper psychiatric opinion just in time to delay the verdict.

Although such conduct is not usually allowed according to legal procedure, because Ben-David was not yet convicted, the court decided to review the opinion.

In the case of Abu Khdeir, the indictment alleged that Ben-David drove the car, while both minors attacked and threw the victim into the car.

Abu Khdeir tried to call his uncle, attempted to escape and even kicked one of the defendants in the face before they overpowered him.

The defendants partially strangled and struck Abu Khdeir on the head multiple times, as Ben-David called out the names of murdered Jews, such as Shalhevet Pas, the Fogel family, Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel.

Next, Ben-David told the minors to burn his body to destroy evidence and they doused him with gasoline and started to burn him while he was still alive.

Police found the teenager’s badly burned remains at 5:20 a.m., approximately one hour after he was reported kidnapped.

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