IDF prosecutors are anxious to arrive at a plea deal with five soldiers who have been accused of torturing Arab prisoners, Channel 20 reported. Prosecutors would prefer to wrap a deal – as soon as possible – rather than risk a long, drawn-out, and quite public trial, as happened in the case of Elor Azaria.
Azaria’s lengthy trial – for shooting a terrorist who was on the ground, after he was shot for trying to attack IDF soldiers – was by all accounts a black eye for the army, with politicians and protesters railing against the army for putting Azaria on trial at all. In the current case, the IDF has brought indictments against five members of the Netzach Yehuda unit who are accused of beating terrorist suspects who were bound and blindfolded.
According to the indictment, they slapped the bound prisoners across the face, punched them, and beat them with blunt objects. The soldiers allegedly caused the prisoners to sustain serious injuries. Two of the soldiers are also accused of evidence tampering in the case.
Prosecutors have asked the military court to extend the remand of all the suspects until the end of proceedings against them. However, attorneys for the soldiers said that the terrorists had attempted to attack the soldiers, and that they had been involved in terror attacks against other soldiers.
Fearing a repeat of the negative publicity surrounding the Azaria case – in which the army was accused of trying an Israeli soldiers whom protesters considered a hero – prosecutors are in intense negotiations with attorneys for a plea deal, the report said. The soldiers are being represented by lawyers from the IDF defense unit, so prosecutor are optimistic that a deal can be reached. The report said that prosecutors will seek jail time for the soldiers, with sentences for at least a half a year or more.
With that, defense attorneys said in a statement that the indictment should not have been filed at all. “We are positive that at the end of the trial the facts will come out and the circumstances will show that the reality that the soldiers faced was different than prosecutors portray. The soldiers involved are excellent soldiers, part of a unit that was placed in an impossible situation – arresting terrorists who were involved in the murder of a member of their unit.”