Elor Azaria requests delayed start for prison sentence

Azaria appealed on Friday to the IDF's Chief of Staff for a commuted sentence.

August 6, 2017 14:20
2 minute read.
Former Israeli soldier Elor Azaria (C), who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months

Former Israeli soldier Elor Azaria (C), who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for killing a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant, waits to hear the ruling at an Israeli military appeals court in Tel Aviv, Israel July 30, 2017. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Three days before he is due to enter military prison, former IDF soldier Elor Azaria on Sunday asked the Military Court of Appeals to delay the start of his sentence until Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot responds to a request to commute it.

Azaria’s lawyer Yoram Sheftel requested that a hearing on the issue be held on Wednesday.

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That is when Azaria is scheduled to enter Prison 4 in Tzrifin, after the IDF Military Court of Appeals last week upheld his conviction and 18-month sentence.

The military prosecution is expected to discuss Azaria’s request and to reject it.

After the court upheld the sentence, Eisenkot hinted in a statement that he would seriously consider an appeal by Azaria “while examining all the relevant considerations and with my sole commitment to the values of the IDF and its fighters.”

Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by a military court in January for killing incapacitated Palestinian attacker Abdel Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron on March 24, 2016. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and demoted to private in February.

Last week Azaria, who has not expressed any regret for his actions, appealed to Eisenkot to commute his sentence to community service.

In his appeal to Eisenkot, Azaria said he wished “to clarify that if I had known in advance what became apparent in hindsight – that there was no explosive device on the body of the terrorist – I would not have shot.”

Azaria continued: “I ask that you accede to my request and to convert the prison sentence imposed on me to a sentence of community service. I want my life and my family’s life to return to normal and rehabilitate my life and in order to mend the pieces.”

In his first public statement since the incident, Azaria on Thursday said while he still believes he could be found innocent through an appeal to the Supreme Court, he is going to prison “with my head held high.” He added, however, that he and his family have “suffered terribly” since the incident and that he wants to return to routine as soon as possible.

“I promise you that I acted out of a sense of immediate danger at the scene of the attack. But the court gave its ruling, and we live in a nation of laws. So I’m going to prison to serve out punishment handed down and I won’t appeal to the Supreme Court,” Azaria said on Facebook. “Earlier today I appealed to the Chief of Staff asking that he reduces my sentence. I hope he responds affirmatively.”

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