(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Baka al-Gharbiya resident Sami Masri to 56
months in prison on Tuesday for a long list of traffic and criminal
In December 2009, a drunken Masri ran seven red lights, leading
police volunteers on a wild car chase, which ended only after they shot out his
tires and chased him down on foot after he ditched the car. Masri was driving
without a license, as it had been revoked for other driving offenses four years
During the chase, Masri twice dodged past police cars that tried
to block his path and in one of the instances aimed his vehicle directly at the
volunteer who was motioning for him to pull over, narrowly missing
Masri pled guilty to the charges, as well as charges of breaking and
entering, theft, and attempted vehicular assault, which were pending in a
separate trial, in a plea bargain.
The plea bargain did not include an
agreement as to the sentence, but the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office
requested a lengthy sentence.
In its arguments, the prosecution recalled
Masri’s criminal record and stressed his endangerment of the public and the
arresting officers during the car chase.
Masri’s lawyer asked the court
to suffice with time already served, pointing to Masri’s difficult upbringing,
poor financial situation and poor health as justifications for leniency. Masri
lost all the fingers of his right hand at the end of 2009, claiming he lost them
sweeping away a hand grenade thrown at his brother.
Amsterdam wrote in her ruling that the lower courts have been asked repeatedly
by the High Court to lend a hand in ending the phenomenon of car chases by
handing down harsh and deterring sentences.
“Despite his personal injury,
the accused did not learn a lesson and was not wary of harming others, taking
the wheel while under the influence of alcohol and endangering others with his
reckless driving. It is the court’s obligation to make sure he doesn’t repeat
similar offenses,” wrote the judge.