A commission of legal experts appointed by the Justice Ministry released on
Wednesday a final report detailing recommendations for far-reaching changes to
the Homicide Law.
Led by Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, the commission was appointed in 2007 by then justice
minister, Professor Daniel Friedman.
Their report recommends far-reaching
amendments to the existing law, which commission members say is out of
No prison sentence for ex-soldier in Karp murder case Karp killers sentenced to 26 years in prison
Legal experts had called for years for this legislation, which has
remained unchanged since the British Mandate, to be updated.
existing law, unlawful killing can fall under three categories: murder,
manslaughter and causing death by negligence.
While a murder conviction
carries a mandatory life sentence, manslaughter attracts a much lighter sentence
of up to 20 years of imprisonment.
However, to convict someone of murder,
prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that even the most brutal and
unprovoked killing was premeditated.
The drastic implications of that law
were made clear in the recent legal storm that swept the country following the
manslaughter conviction of three Jaljulya men who brutally beat and kicked Arik
Karp to death on a Tel Aviv beach.
The Tel Aviv District Court’s decision
to convict Karp’s killers – Jamil Ades, Abed al-Rahman Ades and a minor who
cannot be named – of manslaughter rather than murder after judges ruled that the
prosecution had not proven beyond all reasonable doubt that Karp’s killing had
However, according to attorney Amir Fuchs, a
constitutional law expert from the Israel Democracy Institute and one of the
legal experts appointed to the Justice Ministry’s commission to amend the
Homicide Law, under the proposed new law Karp’s three killers would likely be
convicted of murder.
That is because the proposed new legislation
replaces the old murder charge definition with a new hierarchy of murder
The first level, called the basic murder charge, will include
two degrees of murder, the first being premeditated murder.
It will also
include a second-degree murder charge, which would include spur of the moment
killings in which the killers did not care whether the victim lived or
That second-degree murder charge would fit the Karp case, said
“Although under existing law, the Karp killing was not murder,
because the judges found that the killers did not intend to kill Karp,” said
Fuchs. “However under the new system it would fall under the basic murder
This charge will attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment,
giving judges more options in terms of sentencing, Fuchs noted.
included in the proposed new system is a a charge of murder with aggravating
circumstances, which will also carry a mandatory life sentence.
terror will also fall under this category, as will the murder of a minor or
public official, murders connected with sex crimes and racially-motivated
The majority of the commission agreed that this charge will
carry a mandatory life sentence. However, commission members from the Public
Defender’s office believe that courts should have the option to deviate from the
mandatory punishment in cases where there are mitigating
The commission also recommended removing the existing
charge of manslaughter completely.
Instead, it proposed replacing it with
three new offenses: killing in circumstances of reduced liability, including
after prolonged abuse or in self-defense; causing death by negligence; or ‘mercy
killing’ at the request of a person suffering from a medical
The report has been submitted to the Justice Minister for
review and will then be proposed as a first reading in Knesset.