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Old September 30, 2004, 09:46 AM   #1
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Join Date: February 22, 2002
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Court releases settler suspected of manslaughter of Palestinian

Court releases settler suspected of manslaughter of Palestinian
By Roni Singer and Gideon Alon

The Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court released Yehoshua Elitzur, the settler who shot a Palestinian taxi driver to death two days ago, to house arrest yesterday.

The judge, Nitza Maimon-Sha'ashua, ruled in her decision that she did not see any evidence suggesting criminal intent in the shooting of 46-year-old Sa'al Jabara, and accepted Elitzur's claim that he had fired in self-defense.

The prosecution intends to appeal against the decision in the Tel Aviv District court.

During the deliberations over the police request for a remand of the suspect, additional evidence was presented on the shooting incident, which took place on the highway between the settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh.

According to Major Shai Da-Kosta, Elitzur told investigators that the Palestinian van made him suspicious after its driver sought to bypass an IDF roadblock near Beit Furik.

Elitzur told investigators that he got out of his car in order to check the Palestinian vehicle, and when he tried to stop it the driver tried to run him over.

The settler claims that he was forced to shoot the Palestinian driver in self-defense.

The Palestinian passengers in the van acknowledged that they had tried to bypass the army roadblock. They then noticed Elitzur standing with his rifle, and the passengers say that the settler blocked their path with his car, preventing their passage, and then opened fire against them.

However, a number of problems became apparent in the police evidence during the court hearings.

Elitzur argued that he shouted a warning to the Palestinians, calling on them to stop. The passengers say that they did not hear anything since their windows were rolled up.

The police have also not managed to counter the claim of the settler that he fired at the tires of the van and not at the cabin.

Nonetheless, the investigators said that their examination of the physical evidence and the testimonies is only at the preliminary stages, and they maintain that Elitzur is suspected of manslaughter and not murder.

"There is no dispute that this is an incident with severe results, however, the circumstances of the incident do not in themselves support the presence of criminal intent in the killing of the deceased by the suspect," the judge wrote.

"It is also possible," the judge continued, "to possibly conclude an element of self-defense, and on the other hand, there is a possibility of negligence in the way he aimed, a violation that is by its nature fundamentally different from the manslaughter currently attributed to the suspect."

News of the decision to release the suspect to house arrest received sharp condemnation by politicians.

MK Yossi Sarid (Yahad) and Peace Now General Secretary Yariv Oppenheimer demanded that State Prosecutor Eran Shendar file an appeal against the decision to release Elitzur to house arrest.

Sarid said that it is unacceptable that a person posing a threat to the public would not remain under arrest until the completion of the legal process, as requested by the police.

MK Eitan Kabel (Labor) said that the release of the settler undermines the credibility of the legal system in Israel.

"I have no doubt that if it was an Arab [who did the shooting], he would be sitting under lock and key until the completion of the trial," he added.

MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said that the decision to release Elitzur is puzzling and requires explanation.

"It is not possible to crate two legal systems, one in Israel and one in the territories, because this will give legitimacy to turn the territories into the Wild West," Pines-Paz warned.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al) said that the decision of the judge is puzzling and dangerous.

"Her explanations are revolting, and it makes it easier for someone to press the trigger for the next murder," he warned.

He also cautioned that the message in the decision is that "it is possible to kill a Palestinian and then go home to rest."

Note: Hadash-Ta'al is the Communist party. Literally.
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