One of the suspects in the murder of Arik Kar
One of the suspects in the murder of Arik KarIsrael News photo: Flash 90

The Tel Aviv District Court, to all intents and purposes, acquitted on Wednesday three Israeli Arabs, including one minor who cannot be identified under the law, from the 2009 murder of a man in a Tel Aviv beach.

59-year-old Arik Karp was brutally lynched by a gang of intoxicated young Arab men from the Israeli-Arab town of Jaljulya, while enjoying an evening at the beach with his wife and daughter, who were also attacked and injured by the gang.

Jamal Adav, Abdel Rahman Addas, and the minor were all accused of assault and murder in the case, but while the court held that Karp was attacked by the three and that they had attacked him for no reason, it convicted them of the lesser crime of manslaughter rather than murder. This means they will have shorter sentences and be out on the street before long.

The decision roused much criticism and  led to a protest outside the Tel Aviv District Court . 

The judges noted in their decision that “it is impossible to unequivocally determine whether they intended to kill him and whether the cause of death is from drowning [as the three’s lawyers had maintained –ed.] or from a blow to the head.” Karp tried to escape them into the sea and drowned.

The judges’ decision outlines the events that led to Karp’s death and to the attack of his wife and daughter by the three defendants. The decision notes that in their testimonies, the three indeed tied themselves to the death, but as noted, determines that their lawyers have successfully managed to make it not proven beyond a reasonable doubt  that there was a direct causal connection between Karp’s death and the attack itself.

In addition, the judges note several defects in the testimonies of Karp’s wife and daughter, though they do not doubt the truth of these testimonies.

“The defects [in the testimonies] have not disappeared from our sight but our view is that they are not significant,” wrote the judges.

After the verdict was announced, Karp’s wife, Sarah, criticized it, emotionally, saying: “I'm in shock. If this isn't considered murder, what is? They murdered an innocent man before my eyes, they lynched him. This is a murder case. They did not leave him alone until they had murdered him. That's not murder?”

Attorney Dana Fogetz, who worked with the Karp family during the trial, said: “The crime of murder has been erased from out books of laws. In recent years the definition of ‘murder’ has shrunk to the point where we can't bring a person who attacked an innocent older man with indescribable violence, ending his life, to justice.”

The Justice MInistry, possibly sensing public outrage, announced on Army Radio on Thursday, that a committee has been working on a reform in the penal code so as to redefine categories and definitions with regard to murder cases. The chair of the committee, Professor Mordecai Kramnitzer, was interviewed on the subject. One of the suggested changes is having "indifference to death" added to "intention to kill" as a sufficient reason to consider a killing a murder rather than just manslaughter. It is, however, too late to help the Karps feel that justice has been served in this case.