Western Wall shooter to plead not guilty

Police originally thought June shooting was a result of mistaken identity after accused thought victim was a terrorist.

bodybag of J'lem Kotel shooting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
bodybag of J'lem Kotel shooting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A lawyer for “the Kotel shooter,” Hadi Kabalan, told the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday that Kabalan would file a plea of not guilty to the murder charges against him relating to his shooting unarmed Doron Ben-Shalush at the Western Wall on June 21.
Attorney Elad Eisenberg’s statement was not a final denial, as part of Sunday’s hearing dealt with his request for the court to extend his time to file a detailed denial of the charges.
However, as one of his arguments for why the court should grant further time, Eisenberg made it clear that Kabalan, who had served as a security guard in the Western Wall Plaza, intended to plead not guilty.
Eisenberg also noted that he was still waiting to receive 400 pages of testimony from the prosecution relating to the case and that he would need additional time to review this evidence and fully rebut the prosecution’s case.
The indictment, filed on July 4, said Kabalan and another guard, Khaled, checked Ben-Shalush at the security point when he arrived at the Western Wall area as he did on a daily basis.
After the check, Ben- Shalush yelled at the two security guards and used a racial slur against them for being Druse, the indictment stated.
The security guards continued their work, during which Kabalan asked Khaled and another guard if they would give him NIS 1,000 if he killed Ben-Shalush, the indictment alleged.
When Ben-Shalush walked by the checkpoint later, Kabalan followed him and when he was only meters away opened fire, according to the indictment.
Kabalan fired at Ben- Shalush 14 times, at the center of his body, while coming closer and closer to him, and did not stop firing until his magazine was empty, the indictment said.
The police originally thought the shooting may have been the result of a case of mistaken identity.
The 25-year-old guard has said he shot Ben-Shalush to death because the 46-yearold shouted “Allahu akbar” and reached into his pocket, thus leading him to believe that Ben-Shalush was a terrorist.
Although Eisenberg did not reveal the nature of the notguilty plea, Kabalan may stick to this version of events even though it was later rejected by the prosecution.
Kabalan was a Border Police officer from the Druse village of Beit Jann in the Upper Galilee.
At previous hearings over whether to keep Kabalan in police custody until the end of the trial, his lawyer bristled at the charges and the suggestion by the prosecution that his client, who has spent most of his career in various security services and with highly positive reviews, was a flight risk or might obstruct the investigation.
The lawyer added that the guard had never served in the Western Wall area before, contributing to his not recognizing Ben-Shalush, who was a regular visitor there.
Kabalan was given until October 22 to file his full formal denial of the charges.