Israeli army seeks more jail time for soldier who killed Palestinian

2017-03-07 16:33
An Israeli hard line nationalist supporter of Israeli army medic Sergeant Elor Azaria wears a shirt with his photograph outside the Israeli military court in Tel Aviv. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

An Israeli hard line nationalist supporter of Israeli army medic Sergeant Elor Azaria wears a shirt with his photograph outside the Israeli military court in Tel Aviv. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

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Jerusalem - Israeli army prosecutors on Tuesday appealed an 18-month jail term imposed on a soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant, calling it "excessively lenient".

In their appeal, prosecutors noted that prior to sentencing they had asked for three to five years imprisonment in the case that has deeply divided Israeli society.

The appeal, a copy of which was provided to AFP, also noted that the three-judge panel had passed the sentence last month by a two to one majority, with the dissenting justice recommending 30 months.

"The prosecution argues that the punishment imposed on the respondent is excessively lenient and is not consistent with the level of punishment which is acceptable and appropriate to the respondent's deeds," it said.

Elor Azaria was sentenced by a military court on February 21 to 18 months in jail after an exceptional trial that captivated Israel and highlighted deep divisions in public opinion.

The prosecution's appeal came after Azaria's lawyer filed an appeal against his client's conviction for manslaughter.

He was due to begin his sentence on March 5, but a military appeals court accepted the defence's request to delay the sentence until judgement of his appeal.

Confined to base 

He is to be confined to base in the meantime.

Defence attorney Yoram Sheftel said on March 2 that he would be ready to begin the appeal within six weeks.

The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a rights group and spread widely online.

It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army.

Azaria then shot him in the head without any apparent provocation.

Azaria said he feared Sharif was wearing an explosive belt and could blow himself up, a claim judges rejected.

His sentence, with another 18 months suspended, was condemned as too stern by rightwing politicians and labelled too lenient by Palestinians and rights groups.

A number of Israeli politicians have called for him to be pardoned, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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