The Military prosecution team, however, expressed its reservations over a request made on Tuesday by Azaria’s defense attorneys to the military court to delay by a week the legal proceedings that were supposed to take place on Sunday during which the defense teams would seek to mitigate his sentence while the prosecution team would seek a harsher pubishment.
The soldier’s lawyers, Ilan Katz and Eyal Besserglick, submitted the request saying that they required more time in order to prepare the character witnesses who have agreed to testify in favor of Azaria in order to help mitigate his sentence.
Weismann wrote in response to the request that “the prosecution leaves the decision on this request to the court’s discretion. There is, however, a public interest in completing the legal proceedings, and this interest is combined with a desire to prevent the defendant from suffering a delay of justice.”
The prosecution stressed that it “completely respects Azaria’s right to bring character witnesses on his behalf. The prosecution further agrees that the testimonies presented to the court prove that until he carried out the offense, Azaria was thought of as a positive young man and as an outstanding combat soldier. In regards to this matter, the prosecution brought the defendant’s commanders and asked them to describe their appreciation towards him to the court. As this is an indisputable point, the prosecution has also informed the defense that it accepts the submission of written evidence as to the defendant’s character.”
The prosecutor concluded by saying that “because the defense’s request refers entirely to character witnesses, and in light of the prosecution’s agreement, the justification for delaying the discussion is diminished.” The sentencing discussions were originally scheduled to take place on January 15 but the prosecutor has suggested a number of alternative dates—January 19, 24 or 27.
Meanwhile, Azaria’s family members met with his commander recently. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement that the goal of the meeting was to inquire on any aid required by the family.
“Sgt. Azaria is entitled to a clean and pressure-free legal proceeding and is regularly taken care of by his commanders like all other IDF soldiers,” the statement said, adding that “Sgt. Azaria received proper conditions and beyond during the months he spent in open detention at a military camp.”
Azaria’s defense attorneys have complained to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman that during a meeting held Monday between the soldier’s father, Charlie Azaria, and Kfir Brigade Commander Col. Guy Hazut, Azaria was asked not to appeal the conviction but rather to favor a pardon or sentence mitigation and replace his lawyers.
The attorneys referred to the request as “faulty and outrageous conduct that crosses every line and seemingly violate the law.” These claims were denied by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit however, which said the meeting focused on financial and social assistance to the Azaria family.