Court gives life sentence to man who killed Ramle teen

Yeshiva student Yiftah Mor-Yosef caught in the crossfire as Nir Haziza attempted to assassinate another man.

arrest  311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard )
arrest 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard )
Nir Haziza, the man convicted of shooting dead Ramle yeshiva student Yiftah Mor-Yosef in an attempted underworld hit, was sent to prison for life on Sunday.
Central District Court judges Ofer Grosskopf, Menachem Finkelstein and Liora Brody also ordered Haziza to pay Mor-Yosef’s family NIS 258,000 in compensation.
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“The loss and grief that [Mor-Yosef’s] family have experienced is immeasurable.
The defendant’s criminal actions deprived them of their precious son, the apple of their eye,” the judges said.
The Central District Court in Petah Tikva also sentenced Haziza to a further 20 years in prison, half of which will run concurrently with his life term, for the attempted killing of Einav Cohen, the man he had intended to liquidate as “payback” over a financial feud.
Haziza shot and fatally wounded 17- year-old Mor Yosef on August 5, 2009, as the teenager sat on a bench in the central Israeli city. The teenager was rushed to hospital but never regained consciousness. He died the next day.
According to the indictment, Mor- Yosef had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, the innocent victim of an underworld feud. Haziza, a known underworld figure, was embroiled in a financial dispute with a man named Morris Krispil. On that fatal night, he and an unknown accomplice had ridden into Ramle on a motorbike, intending to execute Krispil’s friend, Einav Cohen, in revenge.
Haziza came across Cohen sitting outside a kiosk in the city center, and opened fire. Cohen attempted to flee the scene, but was seriously wounded and fell into a coma. As Cohen ran away, one of the 13 rounds Haziza fired hit Mor-Yosef in the head.
Police suspected Haziza’s involvement and arrested him 12 days after the shooting. However, it was not until months later, when Cohen awoke from his coma and named Haziza as the gunman, that police were able to indict him.
In court, Haziza’s defense attorney, Yarom Halevy, had tried to argued that Cohen’s testimony was unreliable.
In an attempt to establish reasonable doubt over whether Haziza committed the shooting, Halevy argued that Cohen could not possibly have identified the gunman, whose head had been covered with a black motorcycle helmet during the shooting.
However, in the final judgement, the court ruled to accept Cohen’s testimony that Haziza shot both him and Mor- Yosef. The panel of three judges said that Cohen’s version was backed up by the fact that Haziza had a clear motive to harm Cohen, and by testimony from an eye witness who had heard exchanges between Cohen and the gunman. Haziza’s own conduct during the police investigation, when he claimed not to remember where he had been on the night of the shootings, also supported the prosecution’s arguments that Haziza was the gunman.
The police had conducted a ‘professional investigation,’ the judges noted.
Another issue that arose during Haziza’s murder trial is that a murder conviction is only made if the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that a killing was premeditated. Haziza had not intended to kill Mor-Yosef, who had been an innocent bystander.
However, the fact that the court proved his intention to shoot and kill another man makes him also guilty of Mor- Yosef’s murder, by means of “transferred intent,” the judges said.
Under the Israeli Penal Code, the mandatory punishment for murder is life imprisonment, and in sentencing Haziza on Sunday, the three judges emphasized the effect that Mor-Yosef’s death has had on his family.
During the sentencing arguments hearing, Mor-Yosef’s parents, Rachel and Yehuda Mor-Yosef, gave an “impact statement” to the court, as is standard in criminal trials in Israel. The couple talked of the terrible loss of their son, whom they said they had sent to a yeshiva to study.
“We were so happy with this child,” said Mor-Yosef’s mother Rachel in court.
“And when I got to the hospital and saw my child, saw how he was bleeding from the head, saw how the bullet had entered, I will never forget that sight, I will take that with me to the grave.”
Following the conviction and sentencing, Haziza’s defense lawyer, Halevy, said that his client intends to appeal both in the Supreme Court.
“The conviction was fraught with significant errors,” Halevy said, adding that Einav could not have identified Haziza as the killer.