Life sentences for two brothers convicted of murder

Wassam and Ashraf Mahajna of Umm el-Fahm shot and killed rival, then brutally beat another man.

Justice gavel court law book judge 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Justice gavel court law book judge 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
In a harsh ruling on Sunday, the Haifa District Court handed down life sentences as well as additional prison terms and fines to two Umm el-Fahm men convicted of the brutal murder of a rival in an ongoing family feud.
The mandatory punishment for murder is life imprisonment, but the panel of judges – Yosef Elron, Moshe Gilad and Menahem Raniel – agreed to the prosecution’s request that the court hand down additional prison terms to both defendants in addition to the life sentence.
According to the indictment, 37-year-old Ashraf Mahajna and his 35-year-old brother Wassam Mahajna ambushed brothers Kamal and Imad Mahajna on December 6, 2009. Clad in black balaclavas and ski masks, Ashraf, Wassam and two other men shot and killed Imad, then beat Kamal brutally with wooden clubs, breaking his leg. The apparent motive was revenge for a beating Kamal had allegedly given the defendants’ family members in a fight.
In addition to life in prison, Ashraf was sentenced to a further five years in prison (a sentence that will run concurrently with his life term) for attempted murder, weapons offenses and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Ashraf was also ordered to pay NIS 120,000 to his victims’ families.
Wassam was given an additional three-year prison sentence to run concurrently with his life sentence, and was ordered to pay compensation of NIS 72,000 to his victims’ families.
In arguing for a harsh sentence, attorney Shelley Zeevi- Barzilai, prosecuting, said that in murdering Imad, Ashraf and Wassam had acted “coolly and deliberately,” and had conspired to settle a score with their victims by taking the law into their own hands.
A day before the murder, the defendants obtained the gun, wooden batons, ski masks and balaclavas and carried out a “trial run” of the ambush at the local cemetery, where they fired shots, thus conspiring to commit the crime of murder, the indictment charged.
Zeevi-Barzilai noted the severity of Kamal’s injuries and said that only luck had prevented his death as well as Imad’s.
The prosecution also noted that Ashraf had a previous criminal record and argued that neither Wassam nor Ashraf had expressed any remorse for the murder and beating.
In passing sentence, the panel of judges said that they would impose separate sentences on each defendant for each of the offenses committed by the two defendants, as a deterrent to others and because there were two victims.
The judges also said that the sentences reflected the fact that the defendants had refused to admit their guilt or express remorse, and said they had taken into account the impact statements given by the victims’ families.
In an impact statement to the court, Imad’s son Amal Mahajna said that his father had been “an inspiration to the household” and that after his father’s murder the family no longer functioned. Imad’s father, Muhammad, also spoke of the deep grief experienced by the family.
“We note that the defendants denied the acts and crimes attributed to them and chose a lengthy trial,” said judge Elron. “Once they had chosen this path and were convicted, they were not entitled to the same reprieves enjoyed by those who admit their guilt, express remorse and save the time of the court and the witnesses.”