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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘prosecutor’

Shooting Medic to Prosecutor: ‘They Threw Me to the Dogs Because of their Fear of the Media’

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Sergeant Elor Azaria on Monday faced cross examination by the Military Prosecutor, Lieutenant-General (Ret) Nadav Weisman, and from the start accused his company commander of being a liar, and his battalion commander of forgetting things.

The cross examination began with a question from Weissman, one of Israel’s top litigators who has been conscripted by a military eager to convict its own soldier, regarding Azaria’s own assertion the day before, that his company commander, Major Tom Naaman, had slapped him. “Did you review the videos from your interrogation?” Weisman asked. Azaria said he didn’t. “In the video you are asked if Tom was angry at you and you answered No. How can a company commander slap you twice and you don’t report it?”

Azaria answered: “My latest version is the truth. Witnesses have forgotten to say a few things here.” As the prosecutor pressured him, he elaborated: “I don’t know why the paramedic testified the way she did. As I was hearing the testimonies I recalled images from the incident. I don’t think that the soldier who testified for the defense is a liar.”

The prosecutor went down the list of witnesses against Azaria and asked if they were all liars. “Absolutely,” the defendant answered, “the company commander is a false witness. A big part of the battalion commander’s testimony didn’t reflect everything that happened. I can’t say the that battalion commander is a liar, but on some of the things he lied. He forgot to say a few things… As to being slapped, absolutely the company commander slapped me in the field and I’m still under psychological care [as a result].”

The prosecutor accused Azaria of inventing the slaps, Azaria said he was in shock after the incident and that’s why he didn’t report the slaps at the time.

When Weisman told him, “In front of the battalion commander and your attorneys you first said the company commander told you, Let this stay between us, but you didn’t mention the slaps. And suddenly you added them.” Azaria answered, “I recalled only parts of the event.” At which point the judge interfered and asked Azaria, “When your company commander tells you to keep this between you, what did he mean?” Azaria answered: “My entire treatment throughout the event. He probably knew he made a mistake with me when he screamed without trying to understand why I did it. On the way to the trial he also told me, ‘Say that you’re sorry and it’ll be OK, you know I love you.’ His behavior towards me wasn’t good and he wanted to come out good.” The Judge asked, “Good with whom?” and Azaria answered, “With the whole event.”

Azaria testified that he was asked to remove the body of the dead terrorist, which he said shocked him. “The company commander told me, Good luck, pick up the terrorist’s brains.”

He also said, “They took me to court to appease the world and the media. I felt betrayed. The company commander humiliated me. Meanwhile I’m hearing the defense minister (Yaalon) and the chief of staff condemning me and not even waiting until the end of the process, to hear my version of things, and they come out with announcements. I’ve lost my entire faith in the IDF brass and the defense minister. They threw me to the dogs because of their fear of the media.”

David Israel

Israeli Media Reporting on Hebron Shooter Trial Strictly Political

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

“Sitting next to his parents, with a blank face, [Sergeant Elor] Azaria is realizing the defense arguments are collapsing,” Shabtay Bendet wrote in Walla last Thursday, on the trial of the medic who last Purim in Hebron shot to death an Arab Terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the pavement. An Arab B’Tselem cameraman captured the incident, and as a result what would have ended in a disciplinary hearing for the shooter, at most, quickly turned into a murder charge which was then reduced to a manslaughter indictment by the IDF prosecutor.

“These last few days of hearings did not bode well for the soldier, accused of killing a terrorist,” wrote Bendet, as if the term “terrorist” was a kind of civilian occupation, and could be easily substituted with “housewife” or “driving instructor,” or “electrician.” Bendet continued: “One after the other the witnesses undercut the defense claim that the terrorist posed a real threat of carrying an explosive charge on his person. Meanwhile, Azaria and his family have been maintaining their silence, except for one outburst borne by the realization that things are not great [for them].”

Bendet’s report about how the prosecution has been winning the Azaria trial mirrors countless reports with a similar message which have saturated Israel’s media over the weekend. And, naturally, the further to the left the writer, the broader the implications of the Azaria manslaughter case regarding the entire Netanyahu government and its policies in Judea and Samaria.

Ravit Hecht criticized in Haaretz on Friday Azaria’s father’s emotional call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene in hi son’s case. “The father is calling on the prime minister to, in effect, take action against the army,” she wrote. “The father is turning to the prime minister to sabotage the machinery of the very system with which he is trusted.”

Hecht then goes on to accuse Netanyahu of always sabotaging the systems he is trusted with, but it’s clear from her approach that a conviction in the Azaria case is the proper outcome, while, should the 19-year-old sergeant be acquitted, democracy would be in peril.

Bendet, for his part, misunderstands the central issue in this case, which has made it such a tough case for the prosecution, they had to go and recruit outside talent from Israel’s top litigation firm. The case depends not on the objective conditions near the Hebron check point on the morning of the incident and whether or not there was a realistic expectation of the terrorist carrying explosives on his body, but on the state of mind of the shooter at the time: did Sergeant Azaria believe the terrorist posed a credible threat while on the ground?

But even regarding the rules of engagement as they were understood at the time of the incident, the prosecution’s testimonies are problematic, if not outright tainted, according to Moshe Ifergan, writing for Mida Saturday.

“Don’t believe what the media are telling you,” Ifergen insisted. “Judicially speaking, the testimonies of the division commander, the soldier and the company sergeant who were at the scene prove that the prosecution has collapsed. Severe internal contradictions in witnesses’ testimonies and obstructions of the investigation on the part of the command level should lead to a mistrial.”

Ifergen accuses the IDF of intervening in the investigation in a manner that hopelessly polluted the evidence and the testimony. Kalman Liebskind, writing for Ma’ariv also accused then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF chief of staff Gabi Eizenkot of jumping to damning conclusions before the investigation had begun, and essentially shutting out any testimony that contradicted their strong and unmistaken condemnation of the accused. The defense was able to elicit from several witnesses, rank and file soldiers in Azaria’s unit, testimony about the massive campaign on the part of the division commander and the new battalion commander to condemn the accused.

A central question in the case, which everyone involved, including the judge, keep going back to, is the prosecution’s argument that the behavior of the soldiers in the B’Tselem video does not show that they were concerned about an explosive charge on the terrorist’s body, which the defense says was the reason Azaria shot him on the ground. Since these soldiers had undergone special training to handle explosives in such a situation, goes the argument, their lack of concern is evidence that no such threat existed at the time, ergo Azaria shot the terrorist because he hates Arabs.

But the protocols suggest otherwise. Here’s one exchange:

Defense: You underwent instruction with visualized situations of isolating a terror attack scene?

Soldier M: No.

D: You underwent instruction and situations where there was concern for an explosive charge on a terrorist?

M: No.

D: And on the terrorist’s body?

M: No.

D: The division commander who testified here said in an announcement [date omitted] that he instructed the commanders at the check point in Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) with the complete set of scenarios and that he wants to believe that this was passed on to all the soldiers. To you it wasn’t passed?

M: No, it wasn’t passed.

. . .

D: [A previous witness, an enlisted man] says like you’re saying, that you didn’t undergo training in situations of isolating an attack scene, and he says you didn’t undergo instruction and visualizing of situations where there was concern for an explosive load on the body of a terrorist?

M: No, just like I said a minute ago.

D: The company commander also confirms this regarding a lack of instruction for explosive charges here. Does this match your version?

M: Yes.

The defense questioned three witnesses on this point, proving without the shadow of a doubt that while the division chief had instructed his commanders on the rules of engagement and protocol regarding a terrorist suspected of carrying a charge, the commanders did not consequently train their own underlings, which would suggest that the reason they appear care free and unafraid of an impending explosion was ignorance.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the defense received confirmation to its point regarding the danger of an explosive from a prosecution witness, Sergeant A.

Prosecutor: When you arrived on the scene, what was your assignment?

A: To secure the terrorist who was situated at the bottom part of the slope, [dressed] in black, and to isolate the scene.

P: Who gave you this assignment?

A: Meir Avni (company commander).

P: What did he tell you regarding the terrorist?

A: He said the terrorist was still alive and there’s a concern about a charge on his person, I shouldn’t let people coming from down below to get close.

This was then used poignantly by the defense.

Defense: [Company Commander] Avni knows about the concern regarding the charge, this contrary to the testimony of the Division Commander.

A: Correct.

D: And he instructs you not to go near the terrorist, to wait for the sapper and stay away from him.

A: Yes, [but] on point there’s one correction, I was instructed especially to stand behind the sapper and make sure people who are not part of the security forces not go near.

The odds on an acquittal or a mistrial for Sergeant Azaria among legal professionals who are interviewed by the media are about fifty-fifty. With one military judge already having been forced to recuse herself following an accusation of conflict of interests, and with the security establishment appearing so heavily invested in getting a conviction, it won’t be an easy task for the military judicial panel to rule against the system. But the case for both an acquittal and a mistrial appears strong, so that there’s little doubt that a conviction would result in an appeal to the civilian Supreme Court.

JNi.Media

Report: IDF Prosecutor, Brass, Media Railroading Sergeant Elor Azaria

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Political activist Baruch Marzel is identified strongly with the radical rightwing in Israel. He even ran for the Knesset on the extreme rightwing party Otzma LeYisrael list and has been visible in its many events of political street theater during the last election and the elections before that. After the medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had shot dead a terrorist who was already lying on the ground, “neutralized,” in Hebron last Purim, Marzel reportedly shook the shooter’s hand. Marzel also told anyone who would have cared to listen at the time that security forces were keeping him and other civilians away from the stabbing site where two terrorists were under guard, meaning there was fear one of them could blow himself up.

Ma’ariv reporter Kalman Liebskind noted on Saturday that there’s no doubt Baruch Marzel believed Azaria’s shooting was justified, surely on ideological grounds but also, it appears, based on the IDF rules of engagement. So how come, asks Liebskind, Military Police never took down Marzel’s testimony? Does it mean the MPs were only soliciting testimonies that fit an already preconceived theory on the shooting? It’s starting to look that way, Liebskind argues.

The most disturbing point about the Azaria episode is the counter-intuitive behavior of the IDF brass. One would have thought that in the case of an excellent soldier with a perfect record such as Sergeant Azaria, the IDF would be invested in finding him not guilty. But the fact is that the IDF prosecution is invested not only in finding him guilty, but in having him suffer humiliating conditions through the process, and associating him with political interests that he is not remotely connected to. And to make sure they find him guilty, the military prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team.

So why are so many top officers and politicians, including the IDF chief of staff, the IDF spokesperson, and the former defense minister, so invested in giving the IDF a bad name should the court decide against Sergeant Azaria? Is it because they committed themselves early on to the B’Tselem version of events, based on a video, smeared a soldier’s name in public, accusing him of murder — and now they’ll look bad should he be found not guilty?

“The situation we’re in, with IDF and security apparatus senior officials who are crossing their fingers and praying for the conviction of the soldier and for a ruling that the terrorist was eliminated in an illegal manner — this might be the real story,” writes Liebskind.

Last Thursday, Azaria’s company commander Major Tom Naaman testified against him. There’s no doubt that his testimony did not help the defendant’s case. But then Israeli media began to report a huge incitement campaign against Naaman, complete with death threats. This incitement story was then repeated like a mantra by politicians, until eventually it became an established fact — the brave officer who dared testify against the shooter Azaria is now in fear for his life because of the thousands of rightwing hooligans looking to get even with him.

The only problem with this story is that it never actually happened. The website Perspectiva contacted the two biggest social network monitoring companies in Israel, which showed that on Facebook there had been only 100 large scale group discussions of the testimony, of which 68 were critical. Altogether, over the entire period there were 4,400 entries online mentioning Naaman’s name, out of which 1,500 used blunt language that could be described as crossing a red line. This out of 3.3 million daily entries on Facebook in Israel.

When former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon attacked Sergeant Azaria, he was vilified in 1,600 group conversations per day, and when President Rivlin spoke at a Breaking the Silence gathering in New York he was the subject of 1,000 daily hostile large-scale conversations online. The response to the company commander’s testimony was truly puny in comparison — but the powers that be in Israel’s politics and media needed a witch hunt against him, so a witch hunt they reported.

It was also an opportunity for Kfir Brigade commander, Col. Guy Hazut, and other senior officers to tell the media they supported Major Naaman, who stands alone against the mob of rightwing thugs — never mind that they are imaginary.

“Imagine what goes on inside the head of a soldier who is supposed to testify in this trial and wishes to support [the defendant] Azaria’s version,” writes Liebskind. “He has to be nuts to do it. He knows his testimony would contradict the testimony of his company commander, that it would show up the chief of staff, that it negates the perception of his brigade commander. Can anyone take seriously any of the testimonies in this case?”

Finally, Liebskind compares the two testimonies given by Major Naaman. In the first one, shortly after the shooting, Naaman repeats the very same answer: “I approached the soldier, asked him why he did it, and he said he saw [the terrorist] move.” Naaman later the same day told the MPs, “When I asked Elor after the event, on the side, what happened, he told me he saw him moving and that’s why he shot.” The MP investigator asked him, “In your opinion, did Elor feel danger from the terrorists who were lying down?” and Naaman responded, “I don’t know. I don’t think so, maybe he saw him moving and got scared.”

One night later, with the media circus celebrating all around the episode, Naaman gave a second testimony, and the version he had repeated four times, about Azaria telling him he had seen the terrorist, vanished. Instead, Naaman shared that Azaria told him the terrorist “needed to die.”

Two days later, Naaman gave yet another testimony, and now he told investigators: “I asked him why he did it and he told me, this terrorist is alive and he needs to die.”

When Azaria’s attorneys asked Naaman in court which of his testimonies they should go with, did the terrorist move, didn’t he, Naaman answered, “Now I don’t recall exactly.”

Needless to say, Liebskind does not believe it is possible for the court to make a reliable ruling with this much pollution surrounding the testimonies.

JNi.Media

Hundreds Rally to Support Soldier Charged with Manslaughter

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated around the country Saturday night supporting an IDF medic who killed a wounded IDF terrorist who had stabbed a soldier a few minutes prior.

The medic, a soldier from the Kefir Brigade, is being charged with manslaughter. The prosecutor decided against charging him with murder.

Relatives of active IDF soldiers, reservists and civilians gathered in numerous cities to support the detained soldier.

In Rishon LeZion, 400 people blocked a major artery “for our hero who took out the Hebron terrorist.” A second rally was held at a shopping mall in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam. Another demonstration was held at the entrance to Kiryat Gat, in southern Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

FIFA President Sepp Blatter Re-Elected Despite Corruption Scandals, Arrests

Friday, May 29th, 2015

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, 79, was re-elected Friday to a fifth term as head of the international soccer federation that controls the annual World Cup, even as controversy swirled around him and FIFA.

Support for Blatter came from a wide majority in the 209-member organization despite the arrest of seven top federation officials in Switzerland on Wednesday on charges of racketeering and corruption. The U.S. Justice Department indicted a total of 14 executives and marketing officials from the world body.

“I’m not perfect. Nobody is perfect. But we will do a good job together,” Blatter told members in his victory speech following the vote. “I take the responsibility to bring FIFA where it should be… At the end of my term [this time] I will give up FIFA in a strong position,” he said.

Calls for him to resign were issued by a number of world leaders, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

While the organization’s top echelon struggled with the allegations, Israel fought off a sportsfare attempt by the Palestinian delegation to expel its members from the world body. At the very last moment before a scheduled vote on the issue, Palestinian soccer league head and convicted terrorist Jibril Rajoub instead submitted an amendment cancelling the proposal.

 

Hana Levi Julian

2 Cops Hurt, 1 Female Attacker Killed Outside Istanbul Police HQ

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Two police officers were wounded and a female terrorist carrying a bomb was killed in a shootout Wednesday outside Istanbul’s police headquarters.

Turkish police special forces were deployed to the site, according to Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, who spoke with the BBC. A second gunman who opened fire was wounded by special forces and then taken captive.

The identity of the attackers is not yet clear.

One day earlier, two members of the banned DHKP-C (Revolutionary Liberation Party Front), a Marxist group stormed the largest courthouse in Istanbul and took prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz hostage.

The DHKP-C is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Both the attackers and their hostage, the prosecutor later died in a shootout with police. On Wednesday morning hundreds of people attended Kiraz’s funeral at the courthouse where he was shot and killed before proceeding to the city’s Eyup Sultan mosque.

Hana Levi Julian

Argentina to Investigate Official for Incitement against Israel

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

An Argentinian prosecutor a government official of incitement against Israel and public intimidation.

Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA cultural center, said there is “concrete evidence to start an investigation” of acting Under Secretary of Family Agriculture Emilio Persico, who participated in an Aug. 2 ceremony marking Al Quds Day at the At-Tawhid Mosque in Buenos Aires.

On Aug. 14, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to Argentina’s minister of agriculture, Norberto Yauhar, calling for Persico’s removal. “Apparently, the speakers at Al Quds Day in Buenos Aires feel energized and empowered by the Argentina-Iran agreement, and now foment hate with impunity,” Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for Latin America, told JTA, referring to a much-criticized agreement between the countries to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing.

The next day, Persico went to the headquarters of DAIA, the Jewish political umbrella group, to explain his position. DAIA president Julio Schlosser then told media: “We understood his reasons and the situation is finished.”

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/argentina-to-investigate-official-for-incitement-against-israel/2013/08/24/

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