The Military Court of Appeals convened today for its final session in the appeals case of soldier Elor Azariya before it announces its decision.
Azariya was convicted by the military court in Jaffa of manslaughter for shooting a wounded terrorist in Hevron, and was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison. Azariya then appealed the conviction, while the prosecution appealed the sentence, calling for a harsher one.
At the session this morning, Azariya’s attorney, Yoram Sheftel, is focusing on the fact that Azaiya’s testimony should not be given less weight than that of the witnesses on who testified against him.
“In the specific circumstances of this case, the only option for neutralizing the terrorist was shooting him in the head,” Sheftel told the appeals court.
He added in response to the prosecution’s claim that Azariya had 5 different versions to his account of the incident in question that the company commander who testified against Azariya had 9 different versions, while another soldier, Corporal “M,” who testified against Azariya had 14 different versions.
Sheftel also said that a feeling of danger had existed at the scene of the incident. Judge Segal challenged this assertion, asking Sheftel why, if that was the case, no other soldier or civilian with a weapon at the scene loaded his weapon and shot the terrorist?
Judge Peled also asked why he acted in a manner different from everyone else? Everyone was standing with their backs to the terrorists - why did they not feel danger, but the appellant did? Sheftel responded that Azariya was the one who saw the terrorist’s hand move.
Sheftel also brought up the decision of Judge Piles to release Azariya to house arrest. “If there is no proof justifying arrest, then there certainly cannot be enough proof justifying conviction.”
Judge Segal did not appreciate the additional reminder of decisions made during the arrest, and told Sheftel, “It is not possible to rely on any decision made in the case during the arrest process. Period. It has no place in deliberations on the evidence itself.”
Commander “A,” who was Azariya’s deputy company commander at the time of the incident, arrived this morning at the court to show his support for Azariya.