An Israeli border policeman who was convicted of shooting to death an unarmed Palestinian boy was sentenced Wednesday to just nine months in prison for 'negligent homicide,' instead of the original charge of manslaughter.
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Ben Deri, the former border police officer, lethally shot the 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara in the chest with a bullet that pierced through his back, and landed between his school books and papers.
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Dery to a reduced charge of negligent manslaughter, for shooting to death 17-year-old Nuwara at the Beitunia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah during an unarmed Nakba Day protest on May 15, 2014, along with a fine of 50,000 shekels, about US$13,960.
Nawara and another Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Daher, died in identical circumstances at the same location an hour apart, but Deri was not charged with Daher's death.
The judge lowered his sentence since he cooperated in forging a plea agreement, and praised him for being “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders. Those around him valued him.”
“This whole thing is a joke,” Firas Assali, the Nuwara family’s lawyer, told +972 magazine earlier this year. “Since the beginning, the prosecution didn’t do its job,” he continued. “This is a green light to the army to continue to treat Palestinians as numbers and targets, and not as human beings."
Human rights group in Israel also slammed the verdict. "Deri’s trial epitomizes the way in which Israel’s investigative and legal systems whitewash the continued killing of Palestinians. Even in this case, unusual in that charges were pressed and it even went to trial, the whitewash continues," the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, said in a statement.
"The trial ended with a ludicrously light sentence, which merely serves to underscore the standard message: Palestinian lives are forfeit. Israel will undoubtedly boast of this trial as a fine example of its ability to provide accountability. Damn the facts, it’s propaganda that counts."
The news serves a stark contrast to the sentence handed to Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi last month, synonymous with the Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation, who was sentenced to eight months in prison for merely slapping an Israeli soldier a day after a rubber bullet fired by the soldier hit her 15-year old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi's face.
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Deri was indicted for manslaughter in December 2014. Since then, his case has seen prolonged delays, with some 50 hearing delays, cancellations, the recusal of the original judge due to personal connections with a witness, and the delayed appointment of a replacement judge, 972 Magazine pointed out.
Per a police forensics investigation, Deri's firing killed Nuwara. No autopsy was performed on Daher. A total of two other protesters were wounded by live fire that day, but Deri was only charged with Nuwara's killing.
Hours after the deadly shooting in 2014, the IDF, hasbara activists, and right-wing politicians denied that Israeli soldiers were behind the killings of the unarmed Palestinian teenagers, and called the proof of killing, CCTV footage, as fabricated and staged to deny the involvement of the Israeli soldiers.
Only after international media outlets caught the wind of the incident, Israel couldn't shake off its involvement in the killings.
In January, another member of the Israeli Defense Forces, IDF, was given a clean pass by the Israeli court, in a case involving the Israeli soldier opening live fire against regulations, killing 15-year-old Palestinian boy Mahmud Badran in June 2016.
Despite the investigation pointing to the Israeli soldier, with major failures in the conduct of the officer and the soldier at the scene, and contravening the laws, he wasn't prosecuted and was merely dismissed from the army.