Vigilante cops to appeal jail sentence

Vigilante cops to be jai

October 25, 2009 09:51
3 minute read.

An attorney for a Nahariya detective sentenced along with three other officers to a year in prison for taking vigilante action against local mobsters said she has already told the court she plans to appeal the sentence, calling it "absurd and ridiculous". Avital Ben-Nun, who represented Detective Yaniv Bashur, said she believes the judges were against the defense from the beginning of the trial, and made up their mind to punish the officers "before they even heard our defense." Ben-Nun slammed the court's ruling, and mentioned in particular how one judge wrote that the threat against the lives of the officers was not serious and that since the grenade had already been thrown at their house, it no longer posed a threat. Ben-Nun also said she had never in her career encountered a situation where the defense says they will issue an appeal, the prosecution agrees, and the judges only allow 24 days to issue an appeal. She said her client was handling the news of the sentence well, and described his feelings as being in "aftershock". "It's terrible that these days you need to wait until someone throws a grenade at your house before you can take action to defend yourself," Ben-Nun told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. Prosecutor Moshe Sadeh on Sunday praised the court's decision, saying that the punishment reflected the gravity of the crime. "The charges were very serious. These men could have hurt innocent bystanders. They left a bomb outside a house in which an innocent ten-year-old child was living," Sadeh said. Sadeh added that the punishment "sends a clear message that we are not the third world, in the state of Israel there is law and order. A police officer is not the judge, jury, and executioner." The Haifa District Court on Sunday sentenced the four policemen, who had planted pipe bombs on the windowsill and underneath the car of two underworld figures in Nahariya, to one year in prison. A one-year suspended sentence was also added to their punishment. The defendants, Rami Mousa, Eldad Hadad, Yossi Levy and Yaniv Bashur, convicted in July, accused the men of attacking their families and other policemen in the city. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued a statement saying that the court's decision Sunday must be honored, but "we can't ignore that they were moral and professional police officers who had waged a long, exhausting fight against criminals who lacked any values and tried to harm them and their families." Aharonovitch added that "the war against organized crime will continue on all fronts." Police Superintendent David Cohen on Sunday said he accepted the court's decision, which he called "tough for a tough crime." Cohen added that every police officer "must know that they have the full support of myself and the Israel police." Cohen vowed that police would examine and repair the failings revealed by the affair. Northern Police Chief Shimon Koren also commented on the sentence Sunday, saying that it was a hard day for Israel police. "This was a severe and out of the ordinary incident that raises complicated moral dilemmas", Koren said, adding that law enforcement must stay within the boundaries of the law. Prior to the sentencing, the police called the incident unusual and unprecedented in police history, adding that the force must learn from it. While the police insisted that its officers were not to take the law into their own hands, it said the four convicted members were "professional and normative field officers." "The men were forced into a very difficult situation, showed poor judgment and chose the path of wrongful action, which must be unequivocally condemned," said an Israel Police National Headquarters statement. The statement added that "every police officer knows that danger is part of the job and it must be dealt with solely within the confines of the law, the values and the procedures of the organization. This is the basis for public trust in the police." On October 22, 2006, a bomb exploded on Rafi Ben-Shalom's windowsill, causing damage to the building. Another bomb was planted beneath the car of Michael Mor, said by police to head a crime organization in Nahariya. The second bomb was discovered and destroyed before it could be set off. The bombs consisted of gunpowder and small steel particles. Mor himself was only sentenced to one month in prison and a suspended sentence of 11 months for threatening to attack judges and police. Yaakov Lappin and staff contributed to this report.

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