Border police officers in the A-Tur neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
The father of a Palestinian minor said that he is worried that Border Police officer Ben Deri, who has been convicted of the negligent homicide of his son in May 2014, will get an unfairly lenient sentence.
“If Nadim had killed Ben Deri and was convicted of negligent homicide, would the court act the way it has with Ben Deri?” asked Siam Nuwara, the father of slain 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara, at a hearing before the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday.
The prosecution requested that Deri be sentenced to 20 to 27 months in prison.
Deri killed Nuwara, who was in a crowd of protesters during Nakba Day demonstrations in the West Bank village of Beitunia, near Ramallah.
On one hand, critics of Israel are likely to view the proposed sentence as light, as they believe that Deri should have been indicted and convicted for murder.
On the other hand, in light of the prosecution’s decision to agree to a plea bargain in January 2017 reducing the manslaughter charge to negligent homicide, asking for 20 to 27 months is unusually severe.
Hebron shooter Elor Azaria was sentenced to only 18 months for the more serious manslaughter conviction, and negligent sentences can be as low as a month or two.
Prosecutor Geula Cohen tried to justify the more severe than standard proposed sentence for a negligent homicide conviction arguing that Deri was an extreme case.
She said that in the plea deal he had admitted to intentionally firing a rubber bullet at the center of Nuwara’s chest despite the fact that he admitted that he did not feel in any danger.
Deri’s lawyer, Zion Amir, was furious with the prosecution’s request and asked the court to permit him to break off from the plea deal.
The court rejected his request. Amir was still making arguments in favor of a lenient sentence at press time and had not yet given his suggested sentence, but he had mentioned that a social worker recommended community service in place of a prison sentence.
Cohen said the court sentence must be harsh “to send a clear and unambiguous message” to soldiers about the severity of Deri’s conduct and because “he has expressed no regret and taken no responsibility” for killing Nuwara.
Amir responded, “I cry out the cry of the defendant, of the soldiers of the IDF and our security forces who devote their lives to the state and am embarrassed by the state’s arguments. Negligence is negligence.
Operational activity is operational activity,” he said.
Earlier, Siam Nuwara made an emotional appeal for a harsh sentence, saying his son “was not a danger to soldiers. The whole world saw how my son was killed. All religions say it is prohibited to kill... The shooter did not follow the rules.”
Ben Deri responded calling a serious of former colleagues and commanders from the Border Police who said he was a highly ethical person and a great commander. They said that the border police were under huge pressure and constant danger the day that Deri shot Nuwara.