An Israeli soldier to be tried on charges of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last week will be released to ‘open detention’ on a military base, an Israeli army spokesperson said.
The military court on Friday upheld their decision to release the soldier to a five-day open detention, Israeli media reported, denying the prosecution’s appeal to extend the soldier’s remand for another week. The soldier is reportedly allowed to have visits by his family.
Defense attorneys are to continue reviewing evidence during further deliberations at the military appeals court to take place this coming Tuesday, the spokesperson added. Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the military prosecutor disputed the decision to release the Israeli soldier, and that the soldier is not cooperating with the investigation.
“The soldier gives evasive answers whenever confronted with the questions that arise from his version of events. The soldier’s changing version raises serious doubts about the credibility of the defense’s claims, to put it mildly,” Ynet quoted Chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas as saying.
Zagagi-Pinhas said that the soldier now refuses to conduct a reconstruction of events and be confronted by witnesses who testified against him, which the soldier had initially agreed to do.
The Israeli soldier’s release follows Thursday’s announcement that he would be tried on charges of manslaughter rather than murder as had been widely expected, for the incident the UN has branded as an “extrajudicial execution.”
The perceived downgrade in charges comes as the prosecution and rights groups point to footage of the killing as evidence the wounded Palestinian did not pose any threat, despite the soldier’s claims that he was acting in self defense.
Footage released by rights group B’Tselem captured the moment the Israeli soldier stepped forward and shot 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in the head, as he was lying on the ground severely wounded. He had earlier been gunned down after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier.
“The video has nuances and it speaks for itself. The soldier’s comments during the incident indicate on his state of mind and his motive,” Zagagi-Pinhas went on the say.
In the video, Israeli soldiers can be heard saying “this dog is still alive” in Hebrew, and the soldier who shot al-Sharif could also be heard saying, “this terrorist deserves to die.”