Daily Israel Report

State: Why was Cop's Slaying Manslaughter?

The state has appealed a manslaughter conviction, asking why thief who killed a police officer didn't get murder charges.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/2/2011, 9:37 AM

The criminal department of the States Prosecutor's Office has filed an appeal over the decision to downgrade charges in a police officer's slaying from murder to manslaughter.

Defendant Ibrahim Tamtawi, convicted of killing officer Yigal Cohen, was originally charged with murder. However, the Be'er Sheva District Court decided to find Tamtawi guilty of manslaughter instead, and sentenced him to 14 years in prison.

The killing in question took place in March 2008, as Tamtawi and an accomplice were making an escape after stealing electric cables. Cohen, who was working to catch speeding drivers, signaled the two to stop.

Instead of stopping they hit Cohen and continued driving. While Tamtawi claims he hit Cohen accidentally, police argue that the thieves swerved out of their path in order to run down the young officer.

Cohen, suffering critical wounds, was left on the hood of the thieves' car. Tamtawi swerved in an attempt to dislodge him while continuing to drive, and in doing so, lost control of his car and ended up in a ditch.

Tamtawi and his accomplice not only did not attempt to help Cohen, but instead tried to attack police volunteers who had been working with him. The volunteers arrested the two, who were charged with murder, theft, and vandalism.

No Second-Degree Murder
Israeli law allows for only two types of charges in slaying cases: first-degree murder, and manslaughter. The lack of other options has led to controversy; for example, in the case of Arik Karp, who was beaten to death on a Tel Aviv beach in 2009.

The Tel Aviv District Court decided not to find Karp's killers guilty of murder due to the fact that it could not be proven that 59-year-old Karp had been slain directly by a blow, rather than drowning after his killers left him critically wounded on the beach.