Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Date added: 5/20/2008

JERUSALEM -- Two Jewish security guards were jailed despite a final plea to the Supreme Court to grant a stay of sentence while a presidential pardon is under consideration.

The Supreme Court failed to answer the final appeal by the Dan and Yitzhak Halamish and they began their respective sentences of seven months and eight months on May 20.

"The implementation of the sentence without allowing enough time for the president to complete the pardon process harms the standing of the president of the state," defense attorney Dov Even Or said. "The jailing of the brothers today despite the consideration of a presidential pardon, a process which takes six months, makes a mockery of the [court's] decision if the pardon is accepted."

On May 4, Supreme Court Judge Salim Jubran rejected the previous appeal by the Halamish brothers to postpone judicial proceedings until President Shimon Peres considers their application for a pardon and ordered them immediately to jail on May 5. Jubran is the same judge who rejected their original right to appeal the conviction. The Supreme Court then extended the beginning of the sentence to May 20.

The brothers appealed to the Supreme Court after the president's office advised that Dan and Yitzhak apply for a stay of proceedings, granted to a third defendant, Baruch Feldbaum.
Dan and Yitzhak Halamish, two members of an Israel Army-sponsored unit have been abandoned by the military and sentenced to jail for protecting a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria.

The Halamishs, as part of their reserve military service, were members of a security response team organized, equipped and trained by the Israeli Army to help protect their community and surrounding region from Arab attack. On Feb. 21, 2004, the brothers were summoned by another security officer, Baruch Feldbaum, to help expel Bedouins who trespassed into the Jewish community of Sdei Bar and were encamped near a student dormitory. Bedouin tribes in the area had been deemed responsible for the killing of several Jews in the area in previous years.

Under the direction of Feldbaum, the Halamish brothers ordered the Bedouin squatters to leave. The Bedouins refused, and about 20 of them approached the Jewish security officers with sticks and rocks. Feldbaum shot toward the ground when the Bedouins continued to move closer.
The response team later said that it shot in self-defense. An army medic who arrived at the scene determined that nobody was struck by the gunfire, an assertion disputed by the Bedouins.
At that point, the military abandoned its own security team and allowed a police investigation. Although police refused to conduct ballistic tests or even a lineup of suspects, the brothers were convicted of shooting toward the Bedouins. Dan was sentenced to seven months in prison; Yitzhak, to eight months.

An Israeli appeals court said ballistic tests or a lineup weren't necessary. The word of the Bedouins -- who refused to show up to police headquarters to identify their purported assailants -- was enough.

The court also rejected a recommendation by the probation officer for community service. The three-judge panel said it wanted the Halamish brothers to go to jail to serve as a lesson to others.

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