Shahar Mizrahi begins 30-month sentence

Policeman convicted on manslaughter: 'Holding his head high.'

shahar mizrahi 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
shahar mizrahi 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Dozens of supporters escorted a former Israel Police detective to Gilboa Prison on Sunday to begin serving a 30-month sentence for manslaughter stemming from the 2006 shooting death of a suspected car thief.
Outside the prison, Shahar Mizrahi said he was “holding his head high” and receiving a “great deal of support from the public.”
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His supporters included friends, relatives and the head of the northern police district, Shimon Koren. Last Friday, he submitted his resignation from the force.
At the time of the shooting, Mizrahi was serving as a detective at the Hadera police station. He has consistently maintained that he shot and killed Mahmud Gnaim after the suspect tried to run him over, but in 2009, the Petah Tikva District Court convicted him of manslaughter and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. Last month, following an appeal by the officer, the Supreme Court doubled Mizrahi’s prison term, arguing that the value of human life required a more serious sentence.
The ruling sparked outrage across the law enforcement community, and Mizrahi quickly became a symbol of what many police said was a lack of support for police by the legal system and the general public.
In keeping with Prisons Service regulations, Mizrahi will not be jailed with criminals he may have played a part in arresting, but will not be kept in isolation. He will live in a cell with three others in a section of the prison for inmates on work details, which consist mainly of janitorial labors.
Mizrahi will be eligible to request a shortened sentence 20 months from now. His supporters have called on President Shimon Peres to issue a pardon, but Peres has not responded.
On Saturday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch spoke with Mizrahi and offered the former officer his support. Aharonovitch’s bureau later issued a statement saying that “in a democratic state, sometimes it is our obligation to protest. That said, we must also honor the rulings of the courts, and we will continue to do so.”
The statement added that it was “important to remember that Shahar Mizrahi had been sent on that mission by the Israel Police and the Israeli public.”