Corporal Louis Mascotta, who was convicted of stealing two rifles, an old handgun and the details of IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi's credit card was sentenced to 10 years behind bars on Sunday.
"We found it difficult to believe his claim he was operating under threats… He trampled ethical rules of conduct and dared to badly injure an IDF soldier in order to steal his weapon, it was intentional."
Besides the imprisonment sentence, the court ordered Mascotta to compensate the attacked soldier by paying him NIS 3,500 (nearly $970).
According to a plea bargain reached nearly six months ago with IDF prosecutors, Mascotta confessed to the main accusations. In the revised indictment, a clause regarding his intention to steal another weapon was removed and the theft charges accusing him of stealing the chief of staff's souvenir handgun were mitigated.
After the sentence was read, Mascotta's mother burst into tears. Her son hugged her and tried to calm her down. His attorneys, Idan Pesach and Benny Kuznitz, said the sentence was severe: "It's understandable why the family is heartbroken and crying. On the other hand, the sentence given by the court is lighter than the one requested by the prosecution. We will examine how to proceed from here."
"This is one of the more serious cases in the last few years," said prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas. "The judges stressed the fact that they did not believe his claim he was under pressure and threats. This is one of the harshest sentences ever given for such offenses. There is obviously a clear statement here," she added. The prosecution is also considering whether or not to appeal the court's ruling.
Mascotta's family was present during the court house deliberation, as well as David Einhorn, the father of the attacked soldier whose weapon was stolen by Mascotta. The father said his son is a highly qualified soldier but that the incident aside from physical injuries has caused him to develop harsh feels about his will to continue serving in the IDF.
During the ruling, the court read David Einhorn's testimony, who lost one son during the Second Lebanon War and three years later had to face this serious incident, when his son was attacked.
After the ruling was given, Einhorn said: "I didn't come here to hear the court's sentence and be happy about it. The courthouse sent a clear message to all IDF soldiers. A message every soldier must know about, learn and absorb – anyone who raises his hand to harm an IDF soldier, especially for the purpose of stealing his weapon which might end up in hostile hands, will be severely punished."
Einhorn, who follows the trial very closely, said that the offense of stealing the details of Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi's credit card was continually mentioned as Mascotta's main offense, but that for the first time the court said Sunday that the most severe offense was the attack on his son. "He did what he did under the assumption that you can do anything for money. The court has ruled."
During the plea stage in court regarding the punishment, the prosecution requested to sentence Mascotta to 15 years in prison – in light of the severity of his actions.
In his plea to the court, Mascotta regretted the event and expressed remorse for what had happened, asking forgiveness from those he had hurt. He admitted he must pay the price for what he had done, but requested the court take the fact that he is a father to a young son under consideration.
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