East Jerusalem man convicted of car ramming murder of Jewish man

Lawyers request that the court consider that the defendant was mentally disturbed.

Shalom Yohai Cherki (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shalom Yohai Cherki
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted Khaled Kotina of the murder of Shalom Yohai Cherki, whom he ran over at a French Hill bus stop on April 15, 2015.
The Anata man, 38, was also convicted of the attempted murder of Shira Klein, who survived the vehicular attack but was hospitalized for two weeks at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
The three-judge panel rejected Kotina’s defense that he did not intend to murder anyone.
The northeast Jerusalem man alternatively claimed that the incident was the result of a mechanical malfunction, or that he intentionally drove into the bus stop because of an emotional breakdown.
The verdict confirmed the initial findings that the incident was carried out for nationalistic reasons. The judges wrote, “From the balance of the evidence, the running- over action was planned and intended,” noting that even the defense lawyer in closing arguments dropped most of the story, limited his defense to the idea that Kotina’s intent, even if dangerous, was not murderous.
Kotina’s lawyers requested that the court, before pronouncing his sentence on June 6, consider the possibility that he was mentally disturbed.
Two civilians hit by Kotina’s car were seriously injured.
Cherki, 25, sustained head injuries in the incident and died in the hospital. Klein, 24 years old, also sustained head injuries but survived.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Kotina is married and without children. He has no prior record of arrests.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.