Hours after a military court rejected IDF soldier Elor Azaria’s appeal on a manslaughter conviction, Chief of Staff Gadi EiZenkot said the case was not closed.
“If Sgt. (res.) Azaria decides to file a request for a reduced sentence, it will be seriously considered, along with a review of the other considerations related to this case and from my commitment to the values of the IDF, its soldiers and its service members,” EiZenkot said in a statement on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, immediately after the court’s decision was heard, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, called for Azaria to be pardoned. He faces an 18-month sentence for shooting and killing a terrorist attacker who had already been neutralized and was lying on the ground. The court did not accept Azaria’s claim that he acted on the perception that the terrorist still posed a lethal danger.
He is eligible for pardon by either EiZenkot or President Reuven Rivlin. Sources in the President’s Residence told Channel 2 that he will not consider a pardon while Eizenkot is in the process of doing the same. In addition, a presidential pardon would require recommendations from the IDF’s chief prosecutor, the head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, the chief of staff, and the defense minister, they said.
However, any pardon will have to wait on the outcome of an appeal to the High Court, which Azaria’s lawyers said on Sunday they intend to file.
In the event they decided to forego another appeal, Azaria will begin serving his sentence in a military prison, at which time the pardon process can go forward.