'Thank you to all the sane people who supported us'

Father of convicted soldier: '90% of Israel knows Elor is innocent of all wrongdoing.'

Tags: Elor Azariya
Yoni Kempinski ,

Charlie Azariya
Charlie Azariya
Yoni Kempinski

Charlie Azariya, the father of former IDF Sgt. Elor Azariya, responded this afternoon (Sunday) to the rejection of his son's appeal by the military appeals court.

"I want to thank the sane people who came to encourage and support us ... Ninety percent of the people in Israel know that Elor is innocent of all wrongdoing. The [court] protocols speak for themselves," Azariya's father said outside the military court in Tel Aviv.

Charlie spoke about his wife's condition. "Any mother who sees her son in custody for 16 months - how does she feel? Use your imagination."

Azariya's lawyer, attorney Yoram Sheftel, responded to the denial of the appeal: "In light of the court's decision, we could easily say, "The principle claims of the defense were rejected because of the failures of the previous defense team, but despite all that, according to the facts before the judge, he should have arrived at an acquittal."

Regarding the possibility of Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot issuing a pardon, Sheftel said, "Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the family not to appeal, and that Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot would consider leniency in his punishment. When they come and tell us officially that the chief of staff will consider Elor's [case], we will respond to that."

Shortly after the court announced its decision, Azariya’s mother, Oshra, castigated the judges, calling the rejection of her son’s appeal an embarrassment.

“You only sanctify death, that’s such an embarrassment.”

“The terrorists are laughing in our faces; all of these terrorists are laughing at us,” Oshra Azariya continued, adding that the decision would discourage soldiers from eliminating potentially dangerous terrorists in the future.

“There is a disaster coming and it’s not far off!”

Oshra Azariya was treated in the courtroom by a paramedic after she felt unwell during the reading of the court’s decision.

Elor Azariya’s father, Charlie Azariya, also responded angrily to the court’s decision, shouting at the prosecution: “You’re castrating the army!”

The court ruled that Elor Azariya will begin serving his 18-month jail sentence on August 9th, though his entry into prison may be delayed if he appeals to the Supreme Court. Following the decision Sunday, Azariya’s defense team indicated they would indeed appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Azariya was convicted of manslaughter for shooting a wounded terrorist in Hevron last year and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

After Azariya’s Defense Attorney, Yoram Sheftel, appealed the sentence, military prosecution itself decided to appeal, calling on the judges to accept the minority opinion from the original sentence which had called for 2 years in prison.

Sheftel, for his part, focused in his appeal on precedents in which soldiers who had shot terrorists in various situations in the past - including situations in which there was no visible danger to their lives - had not been tried at all. Similarly, Sheftel focused on the inconsistencies of the central testimonies against Azariya, which claimed that Azariya had said the terrorist “deserved to die, he stabbed our friend.”

The court had also proposed that the sides seek mediation and come to a compromise, but such a process never came to fruition. Sheftel asserted that the prosecution’s submission of its appeal indicated vindictiveness and put its sincerity into question. On the other hand, there were those who assessed that the prosecution’s appeal came to ensure that the court would leave the original sentence - 18 months - in place.

Azariya will be able to submit a special request to the Supreme Court or the IDF Chief of Staff.