Court determines Teitel murdered Palestinians

Judges accept unusual plea bargain, will rule next month whether "Jewish Terrorist" was criminally responsible for his actions.

Jack teitel 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Jack teitel 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday approved an unusual plea bargain made between the district attorney and lawyers representing Jack Teitel, and determined that the defendant had murdered two Palestinians and committed other violent crimes.
Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe Yair Drori said that the court determined that Teitel committed the acts attributed to him in an amended indictment.
The amended indictment includes 10 of the original 14 charges against Teitel, including two murders and two attempted murders, after the prosecution agreed to remove charges relating to attempted attacks that the authorities had foiled.
While the judges found that Teitel had committed the acts, they did not formally convict him.
Instead, the court will reconvene next month to determine whether Teitel was criminally responsible for his actions when he committed the offenses.
Although he agreed to admit to the charges, Teitel refused to come and speak directly to the court because he does not recognize its authority.
Instead, Teitel’s attorney Asher Ohayon told the court that Teitel admitted to the charges in the amended indictment.
Dubbed “the Jewish terrorist,” Florida-born Teitel, 39, was originally indicted in 2009. He is charged with the 1997 murder of Palestinian taxi driver Samir Balbisi, who was found shot dead in his cab.
According to the indictment, in around May 1997, when Teitel was still in the US, he decided to murder Palestinians and came to Israel for that purpose, smuggling a gun into the country by hiding it in a VCR.
Teitel spent his first weeks in Israel with friends in Jerusalem.
Later, he acquired bullets for his smuggled gun, and sought out a suitable victim to murder.
The indictment said Teitel chose to murder an Arab taxi driver because he thought he could ask the driver to first drive him to a suitable spot.
On June 8, 1997, Teitel went to the Arab taxi stand at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, the indictment said, where he hired Balbisi and told him to take him to a hotel.
After driving for a while, however, Teitel told Balbisi to stop and wait, before shooting the Palestinian in the head at point-blank range.
The indictment also charges Teitel with the murder of a second Palestinian man, Beduin shepherd Isaa Mousa’af Mahamada, who was shot dead near the West Bank settlement of Carmel, near Hebron, in August 1997.
In 2000, Teitel immigrated to Israel and lived in Shvut Rachel, a West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem, where he married and had four children. That same year, he was arrested by police on suspicion of carrying out both of the 1997 murders, but was later released due to lack of evidence.
In March 2008, according to the indictment, Teitel attempted to murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, a Messianic Jewish teen from Ariel.
Teitel sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to Ortiz’s home, which exploded when he opened it.
Other charges include planting homemade explosives at the home of Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell, a left-wing scholar from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in September 2008; attempting to murder a resident of the Beit Jamal monastery near Beit Shemesh because he believed the monastery’s inhabitants were missionaries who tried to convert Jewish children; and attacking a police station in 2006 during a gay pride parade.
Following his arrest in 2009, Teitel was remanded into custody in a secure psychiatric facility, and though an initial psychiatric assessment in 2010 deemed him unfit to stand trial, later tests showed that he was able to face prosecution.
In Monday’s hearing, the judges ruled that the court will reconvene on June 28 to discuss whether Teitel had been responsible for his actions when he carried out the offenses.
Teitel’s lawyers are expected to argue that their client did not know right from wrong when he committed the acts, and therefore the court cannot impose a prison term.
The prosecution is expected to argue that Teitel was responsible for his actions when committing the crimes.
If the judges find that Teitel was responsible for his actions, the court will likely impose a long prison term. The mandatory sentence for murder is life in prison.