Friday, March 4, 2011

Jerusalem prosecutor reduces charges for suspect in racially-motivated killing

Jerusalem's district prosecutor created an uproar on Thursday when he reduced the charges against a Jewish teen who allegedly stabbed an Arab to death last month.

The boy in the case is one of four minors who are charged with allegedly stabbing to death Hussam Rawidi, a 24-year-old Arab man, in Jerusalem last month.

Left-wing protesters demonstrated outside the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday after the Jerusalem district prosecutor Moshe Lador reduced the charge of one of the minors from murder to manslaughter.
According to Lador, four of the minors, two of whom are from Jerusalem and two of whom are from West Bank settlements, had nationalistic motives for the attack.

At the scene of last month's stabbing, the suspects allegedly used a razor to stab Rawidi to death after shouting racial slurs at him. Lador argued that the stabbing was not carried out with the intent to kill Rawidi.
The protesters outside of the court on Thursday called the reduced charges "white-washing," and demanded that prosecution change the charge against the minor to murder. They also called on the prosecutor to augment the charges against the three other minors, who were accused of aggravated assault and of obstructing justice.

"There is no doubt that if it were an Arab who had stabbed a Jew, the indictment would look totally different," said Uri Agnon, the Jerusalem Resident who led the demonstration.

Hussam Rawidi's family said that they are disappointed with the indictment, and that they expected the district prosecutor to charge the minor with murder. Rawidi's father, Hussen Rawidi, spoke at two demonstrations against racism in Jerusalem last week, one of which was organized by youth groups and The National Left organization.

"I oppose racism against Jews, and if someone from my village would have murdered a Jew in such a manner, I would have called for a severe punishment," Rawidi said on Thursday before the beginning of the trial. "I expect the State of Israel to act in the same manner when a Jew kills an Arab."

Peace Now also approached Lador last week to request that he reconsider the charges. In a letter given to Lador by Peace Now, Hussam Rawidi's murder was compared to the lynching of Tel Aviv resident, Erik Karp, who was beaten to death by two young Arabs on a Tel Aviv beach two years ago.

"In that severe case, the district prosecutor did not hesitate to charge three of the attackers with murder, and the others present with failure to prevent a crime," Peace Now pointed out in the letter.

The Jerusalem District Court emphasized in the indictment that Rawidi's stabbing occurred during an altercation that developed between himself and the four Jewish minors, after they had attacked Rawidi and his friend.

An official at the Jerusalem district prosecutor's office said, "It cannot be ascertained whether the stabber intended to murder Rawidi. The stab victim died as a result of bleeding that began in his head, but the stabbing was not directed at his heart or throat," and therefore the prosecution decided to charge the suspected stabber with manslaughter and not murder.


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