Light penalty imposed on assailant in plea bargain

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher; Photo credit: Honenu

Sunday, February 14, 2021, 11:58 A plea bargain was reached at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, determining that an Arab in his late 20s will pay only 1,500 NIS in compensation to a Jewish minor whom he assaulted in the Old City of Jerusalem approximately two and a half years ago. According to the plea bargain, the indictment will be changed to read that the defendant threw an object, not specifically a glass bottle, at the minor and also the fact that the minor suffered a head injury in the assault has been omitted. Moreover, the indictment does not mention that the incident was racially motivated and the assailant will not be sentenced to an active prison term. The plea bargain was accepted despite the victim’s objection and despite an affidavit submitted by him.
In his affidavit, the minor related how he is still in shock from the incident and that due to his injury he refrains from passing the site of the incident or even approaching the area. He described how his head bled and he felt sharp pain when the glass bottle injured him. In conclusion, he demanded that an active prison service be imposed on the defendant.
While reading the verdict, Judge David Shaul Gabai Richter said that “after I heard [the attorneys for] both sides and the defendant, I am satisfied that the plea bargain is suitable for the circumstances of the act and for the circumstances of the perpetrator, and therefore I will honor it.”
Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who represented the victim, was astounded by the judge’s decision: “Why was the defendant not charged with a racially motivated assault? It is obvious that he threw the bottle at the youth out of hatred of Jews.”
Bleicher added that “We were shocked to receive the plea bargain which spares the defendant from a significant penalty. The Attorney General’s office committed three crimes: They removed mention of throwing a bottle from the indictment and decided that ‘an object’ had been thrown, and did not mention that the complainant had been injured. The defendant also was not charged with a racially motivated incident and therefore was not penalized accordingly. It is not clear to us why they compromised so much in his favor. We think that such conduct damages the deterrence factor and encourages racist crime.”

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