Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Yakir Ashbal, the groom at the 'Hate Wedding' arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, February 2016

See unexpected update at the end of this article.

Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge Eitan Cohen reached a dramatic decision on Sunday in the trial of the defendants in the “hate wedding” case, ordering the State Attorney’s Office to hand over to the prosecution a list of similar cases opened in the Arab sector which were closed without indictments, Israel Hayom reported.

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The judge ruled in response to claims by attorneys Itamar Ben-Gvir, David Halevy, Yitzhak Bam, Adi Keidar, Lior Kahana and Avihai Hajabi, that the State Prosecutor’s Office discriminated against their clients.

In December 2015, during the wedding of two rightwing activists, guests and the groom were recorded dancing and waving a picture of the Dawabsha in the air. Three of the Dawabshas perished in a July 2015 fire that consumed their home, and which was blamed on settlement youths. That case is yet to be decided.

The guests were also documented waving the picture of the surviving Dawabsha child and stabbing it with a knife.

Eight participants in the “hate wedding” were indicted for incitement to violence and terror, and their trial is under way in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The defense argued that while the state prosecution indicted their clients, it regularly opts not to indict in similar cases in the Arab sector. The defense attorneys demanded that a complete list of files opened and closed after investigations are completed in cases of weddings in the Arab sector where weapons are used, as well as at various events in the Arab sector in which there was a suspicion of incitement to terrorism.

The State Prosecutor’s Office initially refused the defense request, but now it is obligated to hand over thousands of cases, which will have a broad impact on this trial in particular and for similar trials, current and future.

Attorney Ben-Gvir said on Sunday in response to the court’s dramatic ruling: “This is an important decision that will force the prosecution to reveal what has been hidden for years, that there is one law for the defendants in our case and another for hundreds of Arabs who shoot at weddings, wave weapons or slander Israel. There is severe discrimination involved in the prosecution’s decisions, and the court’s ruling will make it easier for us to expose it.”

Update: In the course of the trial today, the prosecution admitted that they lost the original raw video footage belonging to the bride and groom. According to the Honenu legal aid center, this raises doubts on the ability to continue the trial as well as the Prosecutor’s office’s ability to find the defendants guilty.

Speculation has been raised, that this was an “elegant” solution for the State to gracefully exit the case without losing or having to hand over case files from similar cases in the Arab sector which were closed without indictments.

 

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