Court rules Yaakov 'Jack' Teitel fit to stand trial

American-born "Jewish Terrorist" indicted on 14 charges including two counts of murder and one of attempted murder

Jack teitel 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Jack teitel 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
The Jerusalem District Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that Ya’acov ‘Jack’ Teitel, the American- Israeli indicted on murder and attempted murder charges, is fit to stand trial.
The panel of three judges, Zvi Segal, Moshe Hacohen and Moshe Yair Drori, said in Wednesday’s hearing that Teitel’s ability to conduct his defense was “beyond question” and therefore he is fit to stand trial.
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For a court to rule that a defendant is not fit to stand trial, his attorneys must convince judges that he is suffering from a mental disorder such that he is unable to conduct his defense or instruct an attorney to do so, because he cannot understand the charges against him, the nature of the criminal proceedings or communicate with his counsel.
Dubbed “the Jewish terrorist,” Florida-born Teitel, 39, was indicted in 2009 on 14 separate charges including the 1997 murder of Palestinian taxi driver Samir Balbisi, who was found shot dead in his taxicab.
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.
Teitel is alleged to have committed both those murders while he was still a US citizen on vacation in Israel.
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 the 1997 murders, but later released for lack of evidence.
In March 2008, according to the indictment, Teitel attempted to murder 15-year-old Amiel Ortiz, the son of American Christian missionaries in Ariel.
Teitel allegedly sent a bomb in a Purim gift basket to the Ortiz’s home, which exploded when Ortiz 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 and attacking a police station in 2006 during a gay pride parade.
Teitel was arrested in Jerusalem in 2009, while distributing leaflets lauding a deadly shooting at a Tel Aviv gay youth center, although police do not believe he was involved in that attack.
Teitel was remanded in custody in a secure psychiatric facility, and though an initial psychiatric assessment in 2010 deemed Teitel unfit to stand trial, later tests showed that he was able to face prosecution.
“We conclude that [Teitel] is not detached from reality, he possesses an impressive verbal ability and is capable of maintaining a good connection with those talking to him, that he is well aware of the legal process and its outcomes, he knows he is in court and is aware of the various functions of the legal process,” Segal said.