Agencies – The ringleader involved in the kidnapping and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager was not convicted by a court in occupied Jerusalem on the flimsy alibi about his mental state.
The court, however, convicted two Israeli minors Monday of the kidnapping and burning alive of the Palestinian teenager in the run-up to last year’s Gaza war.
The 31-year-old, viewed as the ringleader, was found to have committed the crime, but the court held off on convicting him after his lawyers submitted a report in recent days arguing his mental state meant he was not responsible for his actions.
Sentencing for the two who were convicted was set for Jan. 13, while a hearing was scheduled for Dec. 20 for the third defendant, Yosef Haim Ben-David, from the Adam settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was abducted and killed on July 2, 2014, weeks after the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
The incidents were part of a spiral of violence that led to a 50-day Israeli blitzkrieg in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli attacks killed more than 2,200 people, making 2014 the bloodiest year of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the United Nations.
Abu Khdeir’s father denounced the delay in the verdict for the man accused of being the ringleader and called for the trio’s houses to be demolished, as Israel does for Palestinian attackers.
“The court behaves one way with Arabs and another way with Jews,” Hussein Abu Khdeir told reporters outside the court, calling the last-minute psychiatric report by Ben-David’s lawyers a “trick” and asking why it was not submitted earlier.
Khdeir was forced into a car by Israeli settlers on an East Jerusalem street. His family immediately reported the fact to Israeli Police who located his charred body a few hours later at Givat Shaul in the Jerusalem Forest. Preliminary results from the autopsy suggested that he was beaten and burnt while still alive.
On Sunday, 6 July, police took into custody six Jewish suspects for interrogation, stating that they believed the murder was most likely carried out by ‘terrorists’ as revenge. One confessed quickly, incriminating three others, some of them minors, and they were put on remand for eight days. Within a day, three had confessed and reenacted the murder at the scene of the crime. Three other suspects were released as unconnected with the crime, though they heard about it from the alleged murderers.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the murder on the Israeli government and demanded Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu condemn it “as we condemned the kidnapping of the three Israelis“
Khdeir’s family members have, however, blamed government incitement for the murder and rejected the PM’s condolence message, as well as a visit by then President Shimon Peres.
In the aftermath of Khdeir’s murder, one of his cousins, a 15-year-old Palestinian-American boy, was beaten by Israeli police officers in an assault caught on camera. Another one of his cousins, a 19-year-old who has the same name as him, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, has been held by the Israeli police since a July 28 protest. Though he is an American citizen, Israel failed to notify US authorities of the arrest and the US has accused Israel of apparently singling out Khdeir family members for arrest.