Prosecutors Appeal for Harsher Sentence in Azaria Case

YERUSHALAYIM -
IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria arrives for a court hearing at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, on Jan. 24. (Flash90)

After defense lawyers last week filed a motion to reduce the sentence of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, convicted on charges of shooting an Arab terrorist, who was already neutralized, last Purim, military prosecutors filed their own motion Tuesday, demanding that the soldier’s sentence be increased.

Azaria was sentenced in February to 18 months in prison. In addition, he was sentenced to a suspended sentence of one year, and was also demoted from corporal to private. The court said that it had gone “very easy” on the soldier, as the standard penalty for manslaughter is 20 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought sentences of between three and five years.

According to prosecutors, there was a “wide gap” between the sentence Azaria received and the one his crime merits. The court had convicted Azaria unanimously, which, they said, indicated that there was no doubt in the judges’ minds as to the severity of his actions. As such, it appeared that the court, in its sentencing, may have been influenced by factors external to the trial and they were demanding that those factors be ignored when it comes to punishing the soldier.

Azaria was convicted on charges of manslaughter and conduct unbecoming an IDF soldier after shooting at a terrorist in Chevron last Purim morning when said terrorist was neutralized and on the ground after being shot trying to stab soldiers. At his trial, defense attorneys stressed Azaria’s sterling record as a soldier and the fact that the possibility of a further terror attack — in which the terrorist, who was on the ground, might have set off a bomb he could have been carrying on his person — justified the shooting, or at least provided reasonable grounds for Azaria’s having acted the way he did.