Policeman succumbs to stab wounds after 5-year coma

Rateb Abu Atza indicted again, this time for murder – as he appeals 20-year sentence for stabbing Shlomi Assouline.

Police officer Shlomi Assouline 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Police officer Shlomi Assouline 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The Central District Attorney’s Office has filed an indictment for murder against Rateb Abu Atza, almost five years after he stabbed police officer Shlomi Assouline in Rehovot.
The indictment will open a unique legal process, according to which Abu Atza will be prosecuted again for stabbing Assouline, an offense for which he has already been tried and convicted.
In 2008, Abu Atza was convicted of causing Assouline grievous bodily harm and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the prosecution moved to press murder charges following the the police officer’s death from his wounds in August.
The State Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Thursday that according to the law, a person cannot be tried and convicted for the same offense twice. The only exception is when a victim is killed as a result of a criminal act after a defendant has already been indicted for a lesser offense.
Abu Atza had appealed against his conviction, and Supreme Court began hearing that appeal in July – but when Assouline died during the appeal process, the prosecution decided to file a second indictment – this time for murder.
The mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment. However, for a murder conviction the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a killing was premeditated and deliberate.
In the new indictment, the prosecution charges that Abu Atza intentionally killed Assouline, in order to ensure that he and his accomplice could escape police and evade punishment for car theft.
Abu Atza, who was supposed to be under full house arrest for another suspected crime at the time of the stabbing, had nevertheless traveled to Rishon Lezion to steal the car, the indictment alleges.
The indictment describes how the pair then took the car to a garage in Rehovot. While Abu Atza and his accomplice were trying to persuade the garage owner to fix the car, Assouline and other police officers turned up at the scene.
Abu Atza’s accomplice, Yusuf, was immediately captured by police officers, but Abu Atza tried to run away, the indictment charges.
Allegedly, when Assouline gave chase, Abu Atza stabbed him in the neck with a sharp object, possibly a screwdriver, penetrating Assouline’s vertebra and causing serious injury to his spinal cord and brain.
Abu Atza then grabbed Assouline’s head and smashed it against a parked car.
He then fled, leaving Assouline unconscious, but was arrested hours later, the indictment said.
Paralyzed and in a coma, the police officer was rushed to hospital and placed on a ventilator, but did not regain consciousness. Four-and-a-half years later, on August 3, Assouline died in Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
He was 31 years old.
The new indictment was filed in the Central District Court in Petah Tikva by attorney Orly Ben-Ari of the Central District Attorney’s Office. Ben- Ari also managed the previous indictment against Abu Atza.