Azaria lawyer considering not filing appeal

The IDF Appeals Court voted on Sunday to uphold Azaria's 18-month jail sentence.

July 31, 2017 15:16
2 minute read.
Azaria lawyer considering not filing appeal

Elor Azaria's attorney Sheftel holding up a sign of a similar incident which took place in 2002, July 30, 2017.. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Hebron shooter Elor Azaria’s defense attorney Yoram Sheftel indicated Monday that he is seriously considering not appealing his client’s manslaughter conviction and year-and-a-half prison sentence to the High Court of Justice.

Sheftel told reporters outside the IDF Military Court of Appeals in Tel Aviv following the reading of the court’s ruling on Sunday that he would take the case to the High Court. But he appeared to have changed his mind by Monday morning in an interview with Channel 10.

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“I will consider not filing the appeal because I believe 100% that it should be accepted and I don’t have confidence even 5% that the appeal would be accepted,” he said.

Sheftel said he would first verify through direct channels a statement released Sunday by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot that he would seriously consider a request for leniency if submitted by Azaria. A pardon from Eisenkot would be conditioned on Azaria expressing remorse for the killing.

For Eisenkot to deal with the case, Azaria would first have to stop using the legal process and stop filing appeals. Haaretz quoted military sources as saying Eisenkot did not want to negotiate with Sheftel.

Sheftel has repeatedly insulted Eisenkot’s appearance. On his radio show on Radio 103, he called Eisenkot a “fat clerk who looks like a municipal sanitation department worker.” In the Channel 10 interview, he refused to apologize and added new insults.

“Someone who is as fat as the chief of staff does not broadcast the valor of a soldier and is not an example for the entire IDF as a chief of staff must be,” Sheftel said. “The chief of staff would not pass a fitness test of the IDF.”

He later apologized, saying he did it symbolically because of Tisha Be’Av, but according to a statement by the Second Television and Radio Authority, Sheftel only issued the apology after his superiors threatened to take away his radio show.

Azaria’s family must decide by next week which track to take. If Azaria is not pardoned and does not appeal the verdict, he is expected to begin serving his sentence on August 9, as scheduled.

Likud MK Oren Hazan, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of Azaria and attended his court case Sunday, urged him to drop the appeal and turn to Eisenkot.

“I have stood by Elor from day one and it is clear how much I want to see him free,” Hazan wrote on Twitter. “Dear Azaria family, at this point it would be right to put your trust in the chief of staff and request a pardon.”

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