By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli former paramilitary policeman was jailed for nine months on Wednesday for killing a teenage Palestinian protester in 2014, prompting protests from the youngster’s family who demanded a tougher sentence.
In a plea bargain, defendant Ben Deri had earlier confessed to the negligent manslaughter and aggravated injury of 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara – less serious than the full manslaughter charge he originally faced.
“This is not how justice is done,” Nuwara’s father Issam told Reuters after the sentencing.
“I never expected the Israeli court to do justice for my martyred son, but I had to do all I can to present a solid case and to expose the Israeli judicial system before the world and I did.”
Prosecutors had originally filed full manslaughter charges against Deri, accusing him of deliberately switching his rubber bullets for the live round that killed Nuwara at Beitunia village in the occupied West Bank.
The amended indictment, agreed to by Deri and approved by Jerusalem District Court, described the switch as accidental.
Negligent manslaughter carries a maximum three-year jail term in Israel. Manslaughter, by contrast, carries a maximum 20-year sentence as that charge can apply to deliberate killings where there is no clear evidence of premeditation.
The court handed Deri a nine-month jail term, an additional six-month suspended sentence, and ordered Deri to pay 50,000 shekels ($14,000) in damages to Nuwara’s family.
Deri was convicted of aggravate injury after the court determined that he had aimed what he thought was a rubber bullet at Nuwara’s chest at Beitunia on May 15, 2014.
A second teenage protester was killed in the Beitunia incident but Israel did not pursue charges in that case, citing lack of evidence as an autopsy was not carried out.
The court statement on Wednesday said the shooting took place after the stone-throwing by the protesters had ceased. “Contrary to regulations, and despite the fact that the deceased posed no threat to the (Israeli) unit, the defendant aimed his weapon at the torso of the deceased and fired at the deceased with the intent of injuring him.”
The deaths stoked Palestinian fury at Israel in the weeks after U.S.-sponsored peace talks collapsed in April.
An Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, is due to be released from prison next month after serving two-thirds of an 14-month sentence for manslaughter over his killing of a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank in 2016.
Azaria was originally sentenced to 18 months in jail, a term the Palestinian government condemned as a “green light” to kill with impunity. Israel’s armed forces chief cut that sentence by four months and it was later shortened by a third for good behavior.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller)