After a nearly three-year long battle in Israeli military courts, five Palestinian teens from the occupied West Bank village of Hares accused of manslaughter after reportedly throwing stones were on Thursday issued sentences of 15 years, a prisoners’ rights group said.
The case has been disputed in the past by relatives and rights groups, who say that insufficient evidence was provided to prove that the five had any involvement in the death of an Israeli toddler who passed away two years after the teens were accused of throwing stones at her mother’s vehicle, causing it to crash.
A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Iyad Mahamid, told Ma’an that the military court issued the sentences to Muhammad Suleiman, Tamer Souf, Ammar Souf, Ali Shamlawi, and Muhammad Kleib.
Relatives of the detainees told Ma’an following a court hearing in December 2015 that the teens would be sentenced to prison terms of 15 years on the grounds that their families pay fines of 30,000 shekels ($7,700) by Jan. 28.
“Hares Boys,” an activist blog dedicated to raising awareness of the teens’ case, posted on their Facebook page “Free the Hares Boys” on Thursday that the families were able to pay the fines in full with the assistance of outside donations.
Failure to pay the fines could have resulted in prolonged sentencing to at least 25 years in prison, according to the Hares Boys blog.
Thursday sentencing marks a poor end to a drawn-out court battle that began after the five were detained by Israeli forces on March 15, 2013. All were 16 and 17 years old at the time of their detention.
Their arrest followed the hospitalization of a three-year-old Israeli girl, Adele Biton, who suffered severe head injuries when her mother’s car collided with a truck near the Israeli mega-settlement of Ariel. The toddler died two years later after suffering complications from pneumonia.
The family believes that while the child died of pneumonia, the severity of her complications was due to injuries sustained after the vehicle accident, according to Israeli media.
– Read more: ‘Hares Boys’ Sentenced to 15 Years after Families Pay Fines – MAAN