(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
The IDF Military Court on Thursday demoted the former senior IDF officer Ofek Buchris to the rank of colonel.
Judges grudgingly accepted the plea bargain that was already reached, saying that "lowering one rank does not seem enough and the majority of the three judge panel had thought an additional demotion would be appropriate, but we will respect the plea bargain grudgingly."
Buchris, who was a brigadier-general and previously considered to be facing a promising, lasting army career, was indicted on three counts of rape and seven counts of sex crimes in an ongoing trial that sparked controversy in Israel.
In the hearing on Thursday, the court discussed the punishment that was agreed upon in the plea bargain that was reached earlier in an almost unprecedented move. Explaining the decision to re-open the discussion, judges said that "usually we must respect plea bargains, which are an important part of the legal process, but we must also measure justice and equality before the law."
The court then said that it decided to take a more strict approach on the matter and give sentencing for each of the offenses separately, saying that "a senior officer has failed and how severely we should deal with him is the complex question we must deal with."