IDF soldier Elor Azariya, who is on trial for charges of manslaughter after having shot a wounded Arab terrorist in Hevron, denied all charges against him during a hearing in Jaffa (Yafo) military court Monday.
Azariya denied all charges against him, stating that he was acting in self-defense.
His representative, Attorney Eyal Beserglick, said on behalf of Azariya's defense team that the soldier truly felt his life was in danger during the incident.
"This is an explicit denial," he stated at the end of the hearing. "We presented our investigation of what happened and note the soldier acted appropriately in these circumstances, which were not simple, and he felt a mortal danger to him and his friends."
The defense also argued that the prosecution purposely withheld evidence to push Azariya toward a conviction.
Attorney Ilan Katz told Walla! News that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had interfered to Azariya's detriment during the process.
"We said from the beginning of the process that there were inappropriate utterances from the outgoing minister, and these statements have caused damage and the mixture of the political system in the legal process," Katz fired. "To date, the judges have proved to be independent, brave, and professional."
"There is no doubt that if it wouldn't have been for the outgoing minister opening his mouth and saying that 'the soldier was excessive,' words that tie the soldier to affairs he wasn't involved in, we wouldn't have to relate to [Ya'alon's] words here."
The case drags on
Just 24 hours ago, Yafo Military Court President Col. Maya Heller replaced the panel of judges, after Lt. Col. Yogev Yifrah noted that he has a previous personal acquaintance with Hevron Division Commander Deputy Maj. Gen. Yariv Ben-Ezra, who is a key witness in the case. The new judges have not been named publicly.
Azariya has argued that he shot the terrorist - who minutes earlier together with an accomplice stabbed and wounded a soldier - out of fears he was moving to detonate a bomb belt. It has been confirmed that concerns over the presence of a bomb belt had not been ruled out.
His lawyers argue that politicians have interfered with the case, not only through outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's (Likud) ceaseless condemnation of the soldier, but also due to the fact that military prosecutor Lt. Col. (res) Nadav Weissman was called up for reserve duty for the express purpose of prosecuting the case.