An Israeli court has convicted an Israeli man of kidnapping and killing 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir after it rejected the defendant’s defence team plea of insanity.
The court ruled on Tuesday that Yosef Haim Ben David, 33, was sane and in control of his actions when he and accomplices kidnapped and murdered Abu Khdeir on July 2, 2014.
Ben David was initially convicted last November of murder, kidnapping for the purpose of murder, and assault, but the court postponed the conviction until a psychological evaluation of Ben David was conducted after he claimed insanity.
Abu Khdeir was walking to his home in the Shuafat neighbourhood of East Jerusalem when he was kidnapped and forced into a car and taken to a Jerusalem forest where he was beaten and burned alive.
Ben David confessed to police that he planned to kidnap and murder an Arab.
Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, told Al Jazeera from his home in Jerusalem that although the verdict is right, it will not bring back his child.
“Our hearts are broken for ever, my son Mohammed was burned once by these terrorists, but we feel that we are getting burned every day ever since we lost him,” Hussein said.
He added that he and his wife had to endure almost two years of arduous court proceedings that often lasted up to eight hours in order to reach this point.
“The murder of our son has changed our lives for ever. We suffer from depression and we cannot go on with our lives because we keep thinking of Mohammed and what happened to him,” Hussain said.
He also accused the Israeli justice system of “racism”, saying it has been “dragging its feet because the terrorists in this case happened to be Jewish”.
He added: “If Arabs were accused of terrorism, the case would have ended with conviction in two or three sessions.”
Lawyer for the Abu Khdeir family, Mohannad Jbara, who spoke to Al Jazeera via phone from Jerusalem, said the conviction was the right decision by the court.
“We are glad that the court has finally moved to convict the defendant and agreed with our position that he should be held responsible for his horrific crime,” Jbara said.
The sentencing hearing is set for May 3, according to Jbara, who expects the court to hand down a life sentence at the very minimum, as stipulated by the Israeli law, and because of the horrific nature of the crime.
Two other defendants, who were minors at the time of the crime, were convicted earlier and sentenced to 21 years and life in prison.
Jbara said that with this conviction, the court had opened the door for Abu Khdeir family members, who were designated as “victims or terror” under Israeli law, to petition the Israeli interior ministry to demolish the homes of the convicted Israelis, who live in the illegal Israeli settlement Adam, in the occupied West Bank.
He also plans to submit requests to the government to revoke the citizenship of the convicted Israelis, in accordance with Israeli laws.
“This is an important step for the family because we want the Israeli government and justice system to treat the Palestinians who are victims of terror acts committed by Israelis as equal to what Israel considers as Palestinian acts of terrorism towards Israelis,” he added.
Al Jazeera tried several times to reach officials from the Israeli government to comment on this case but no one answered the phone or email by the time of publication.
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Source: Al Jazeera