A general view shows Eish Kodesh outpost. Picture taken January 5, 2016.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
An Israeli accused of shooting at Palestinians during a West Bank land dispute in 2011 was acquitted by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Although two Palestinians testified that Yair Sekgo had shot at them with intent to cause them harm, Judge Dov Pollock ruled that the evidence was too mixed for a conviction.
More specifically, Pollock said that the two Palestinians’ testimony contradicted each other in various ways and that neither was sure as about Sekgo’s identity as the shooter on cross-examination as they originally claimed.
In other words, some other West Bank Jewish person might have shot at them, but not necessarily Sekgo.
Lawyer Adi Keidar of the right-wing legal NGO Honenu
praised the court’s decision, while slamming the prosecution and saying that, “the indictment never should have been filed.”
For his part, Sekgo said that he only fired warning shots in the air and was part of an official civilian security unit. He added that he did not even shoot warning shots until he was hit in the face with a rock.
The prosecution had rested its case against Sekgo on a combination of the Palestinians’ accusations against him and his complete silence when he was interrogated by police.
While the court said that Sekgo’s silence to police was suspicious and could be held against him to some extent, it also stated that since he ultimately gave a coherent account in court, that testimony held greater weight.
Further, the court said that when Sekgo initially interacted with police in the field, that they were not in uniform and that he had used this as a justification for doubting how much he should say to them.
In addition, the court appeared to frame the background of the incident as a broader altercation between dozens of both Palestinians and Jews over a disputed area near the Jewish area of Eish Kodesh
in which both sides carried some blame.
One issue in the case was that the Palestinian witnesses had trouble remembering many of the details from the 2011 incident, particularly regarding how they had originally described it to police.
Questioned about why it took so long for the case to be filed, something which could have impacted the Palestinians’ memory, the state prosecution had not responded at press time.
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