conviction for the kidnapping, assault, and killing of a Palestinian teenager in the city of Hebron, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
By Aviad Glickman
YNetNews.com [September 2, 2008]
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday found Border Guard officer Shahar Botabicka guilty of the abduction and manslaughter of a Palestinian youth. Botabicka and three other Border Guard officers were involved in the 2002 kidnapping of a Palestinian teenager, during their service in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The incident was caught on tape by Border Guard officer Denis Alhazov, who was also found guilty of abduction and manslaughter. Officers Yanai Lalza and Bassam Wahabee were also convicted for their involvement in the incidents, with the court sentencing Lalza to six and a half months in prison and Wahabee to four and a half years.
According to the indictment, the four kidnapped 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadya in Hebron in December of 2002. They dragged him into their jeep, proceeded to beat him and eventually threw him out of the car at high speed.
The indictment noted in detailed how Hamadya was first ordered to jump out of the moving vehicle, and when he refused, Botabicka and Lalza make him stand up in the back of the jeep, using its roof straps as support. The two then forcibly pried open his grip and pushed him out of the vehicle, which was reportedly driving at 50 mph. Hamadya was slammed into the road and suffered fatal head injuries.
The court further found Botabicka and Alhazov guilty aggravated assault, abusing power and obstruction of justice.
When reading the ruling for the record, Justice Orit Efal-Gabai ruled that Alhazov, who filmed the incident, "was not present at the scene at random but was rather part of the plan, embarking on a path of violence as one of four participants."
As for the fact that the court tried Alhazov and as an accessory, Judge Efal-Gabai said that "although he was not a dominant participant, he was party to the plan, documenting his friends acts… in his actions and omission he has made himself a part of the deceased's killing."
Alhazov's attorney said that the court's decision was the first time in which a man has been convicted of manslaughter despite the fact that all he did was film the event: "He took no active part in the act or had any previous knowledge of it… it is regrettable that the court saw this as enough for a conviction." The defense, he noted, will appeal the verdict.
Prosecuting Attorney Moshe Saada said the court's ruling brought closure to one the gravest affairs in Border Guard history. "The verdict sets a certain precedent in convicting the officer who filmed the incident of manslaughter, as it did the officer who instigated the abuse and violence."
The State, he added will ask the court to order Botabicka be sentenced to 20 years in prison – the maximum stated by the penal code. The State's sentencing recommendation in Alhazov's was still pending.
Shahar Botabicka's mother claimed Tuesday that her son was made out to be the scapegoat by his friends: "Even if we say that mistakes were made by all of them, they were not made intentionally. "It saddens me to see the way the military and the state treat their soldiers. These boys have been through several traumas when they were stationed in Hebron and this is the thanks they get? The (army) should be ashamed of itself."
[What a wretched woman. Mistakes? Forcing someone to jump from a vehicle moving 50+ miles-per-hour is a choice. Kidnapping is a choice. Assault is a choice. Cry me a river, and I'll get my violin...]