Danny Katz was about 14 years old when he was abducted and murdered. His body was discovered three days later in a cave near Sakhnin. The five Arabs, two of whom were also convicted for the murder of Daphna Carmon, likely did what they did because of political-ideological motives.
This should be clear: Danny Katz didn't do a thing to his killers. He didn't take anything away from them. He was just on his way to a friend at sunset.
"Danny's blood cries out from the ground" Justice Ayala Procaccia ruled when she rejected, along with her Supreme Court colleagues, the appeal filed by the five over their conviction in the retrial. She stressed that the legal system exhausted all means available to clear up the clouds still hovering over the affair. According to the verdict, everything was done while respecting the accused men's basic rights and aspiring to reach the truth.
The case of the five murderers was thoroughly examined at the Haifa District Court, later in the appeal, and again by then-Chief Justice Meir Shamgar. Overall, seven judges examined the evidence during that phase.
Yet the Arab lobby in the Israeli media did not rest all those years. An endless number of articles condemned the injustice apparently done to the hooligans from the village of Sakhnin, until eventually then-Justice Minister David Libai was forced to order a reexamination of the conviction.
Arab lobby didn't give up
The end result: Aharon Barak – who else – ordered a retrial due to substantive concern, as he termed it, that justice had been distorted. The retrial took place at the Tel Aviv District Court this time, and the verdict spreads over no less than 400 pages. The conviction remained intact.
Yet the Arab lobby did not give up: It waited for Shimon Peres to be elected president. The special release committee can only advise a president to reduce the sentence of murderers; the decision itself is taken by the president and none other.
The committee's arguments remained classified, as did the president's reasoning. Yet I have no doubt about one thing: The five murderers did not express any regret for their deeds. I am certain that they again claimed they are innocent. Even after 13 different judges examined the evidence against them, in the first and second round, Danny Katz's murderers still deny their part in the murder.
It is possible that everyone acted in good faith and in accordance with the law, including members of the release committee and Justice Minister Friedmann. Yet there is still something that bothers me: Several years ago, the law allowing for a reduction in the sentence of murderers was amended, so that if a person assassinated a prime minister because of a political-ideological motive, he will never be released.
That being the case, why can't we apply the same standard to Arabs who murdered a mere Jewish boy, and not a prime minister, because of a similar motive?