New scale of penalties for homicide gets ministerial approval

The change would make it easier to give terrorists life sentences without having to prove the murder was premeditated.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (photo credit: REUTERS)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation authorized a new scale of homicide offenses and punishments on Sunday to respond to specific types of homicide.
The Justice Ministry initiative, based on recommendations by a committee led by law Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, would replace the current, more vague law, which is based on orders from the British Mandate.
“Broad definitions cause problems,” explained Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. “The [law’s] current wording for homicide challenged the legal system and caused many difficulties because of the wide range of definitions of murder.”
The new scale would divide murder into aggravated murder, which would carry a mandatory life sentence, and other forms for which life would be the maximum penalty.
Instead of manslaughter, there would be murder with reduced liability, for which one can spend as much as 20 years in prison; and reckless manslaughter, with a 12-year maximum sentence. Wrongful death through gross negligence would carry a sentence of up to five years, and other types of wrongful death would have a maximum sentence of three years.
The change will make it easier to give terrorists life sentences without having to prove the murder was premeditated, for example, in cases in which throwing rocks kills someone, the ministry explained.
Shaked pointed out that Alexander Levlovich’s killers, who threw rocks at his car on Rosh Hashana, were indicted for manslaughter, not murder.
“Changing the scale will grease the wheels of justice and create a clear and precise range of crimes. Murder will be defined as murder, and murderers will get the punishment they deserve,” she stated.
Kremnitzer said last week that, “This bill will allow the Knesset to undertake an important and necessary reform and replace a chapter in the penal code that was legislated during the British Mandate with a modern arrangement that is worthy of a democratic state in the 21st century.”