The lawyer representing the family of murdered Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir on Thursday accused one of his killers of “stalling” justice, as an Israeli court began to hear his insanity plea.
Two Israeli minors were sentenced over the killing of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir earlier this month, but 30-year-old Yosef Ben-David, believed to be the group’s ringleader, escaped conviction after seeking a last minute psychiatric evaluation.
All three killers have confessed to beating unconscious Abu Khdeir in July 2014 before pouring flammable liquid on him and setting him alight.
Following Thursday’s hearing, Abu Khdeir’s family lawyer, Muhannad Jbara, said Ben-David’s defense team was “stalling” justice by attempting to “postpone and prevent” the killer’s conviction and sentencing.
The hearing lasted nearly seven hours, during which the jury listened to a medical expert assigned by Ben-David’s lawyer who said the killer suffered mental and psychological issues.
A second medical expert, assigned by the prosecution, argued that Ben-David was qualified for trial and did not suffer any mental illnesses.
Ben-David’s defense team initially sought to keep the trial closed, but the court ruled only to keep personal testimonies unpublished. The defense unsuccessfully attempted to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.
Jbara said that Ben-David told the court he was aware of all details of the killing and had earlier reenacted the crime on camera for investigators.
Jbara said that Ben-David’s defense argued this reenactment was provided after Ben-David came under “pressure” from police, as well as being electrocuted.
The court is not expected to reach a verdict until a later date.
The other two killers, both minors, were sentenced earlier this month, with one receiving life imprisonment and the other 21 years, in what Abu Khdeir’s family condemned as too light a sentence.
Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, told Ma’an: “Muhammad died again today, and we died with him. Does it make sense to sentence the killer who kidnapped, tortured and burned Muhammad to only 21 years in prison?”
He said the sentence proved Israel was not a democratic country. “Israeli courts have two faces of judiciary: one for the Palestinians and another for the Israelis.”