AG to politicians: Stop interfering in Elor Azariya’s case

May 25, 2016  

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit spoke late Tuesday for the first time about the case of Elor Azariya, the IDF soldier currently on trial for charges of manslaughter after having shot a wounded Arab terrorist in Hevron.

Speaking at a launch event for the prosecutors forum at the Israel Bar Association, Mandelblit warned politicians not to interfere in the case, in a reference of how senior politicians rushed to condemn Azariya within hours of the incident even as an investigation had yet to begin.

“There is no place for sources outside of the prosecution system to cross the disciplinary boundaries between the authorities and get involved in the prosecution. There is no place to distinguish in this matter between the general prosecution and the military prosecution.”

“Such involvement is liable to be interpreted, God forbid, as an attempt to bias the trial,” warned Mandelblit, who in the past served as the chief military prosecutor.

Mandelblit stated that in an investigation of an IDF soldier the sole authority in examining the evidence, weighing legal policies and making a decision as to whether or not there is cause to present an indictment belongs to the chief military prosecutor, and no one else.

“I am convinced that the military legal system knows best how to bring justice. The chief military prosecutor, and he alone, decides if and when to submit an indictment, and the military court is experienced in evidentiary and legal clarification and making a ruling,” he said, as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.

“We have to be strict on this principle. There is no room for any confusion here. The chief military prosecutor works independently in matters of law enforcement. The only consideration that guides him is the realization of the public interest.”

His comments come even as Azariya’s attorneys complained Monday that outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) interfered in the trial through his recurring harsh condemnation of the soldier.

Attorney Ilan Katz said, “we said from the beginning of the process that there were inappropriate utterances from the outgoing minister, and these statements have caused damage and the mixture of the political system in the legal process.”

Ya’alon took a pot shot at Azariya on Memorial Day when he warned soldiers not to lose their “humanity,” and previously he went so far as to compare the soldier with ISIS terrorists.

Azariya has argued that he shot the terrorist – who minutes earlier with an accomplice stabbed and wounded a soldier – out of fears he was moving to detonate a bomb belt and harm all of the personnel gathered at the scene.

His attorneys reiterated that argument in rejecting the indictment against him on Monday, emphasizing that he acted to neutralize the terrorist out of a sense of immediate danger. It has been confirmed that the concerns of a bomb belt had not been ruled out.


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