Following Sgt. Elor Azaria’s conviction on manslaughter, on Tuesday the military panel will begin hearing arguments regarding his sentence, starting with defense character witnesses and concluding with the prosecution’s sentencing arguments. According to leaks in the Israeli media – which found out about it before the defense team or the soldier’s family – the prosecution intends to ask for three years, rather than five, based on Azaria’s impeccable service record.
Azaria himself may also speak to the court, in addition to between ten and fifteen defense witnesses. Most of the witnesses will be his fellow soldiers from the Kfir Division, as well as his home town, Ramla, mayor, Yoel Lavi.
The sentence is expected to be delivered in a few weeks.
The newest member of Azaria’s legal team, celebrity attorney Yoram Sheftel, will be present at the sentencing hearing Tuesday but is not expected to speak. Sheftel’s role in submitting an appeal to a higher court will kick in only following the reading of the sentence.
In recent weeks, attorney Sheftel has criticized Azaria’s bullying by the military prosecution, as well as by his commanders, the chief of staff and the defense minister. Sheftel was particularly critical of the prosecution’s efforts to prevent an appeal in the case, so that Azaria “would ask for forgiveness, which would terminate any possibility of his submitting an appeal, leaving him completely at the mercy of the military establishment that threw him to the dogs.”
Sheftel also branded the prosecution “irrepressibly bloodthirsty” for the severe sentence it is recommending.