Lt. Col. Omri Burberg
Photo: Meir Azulay
Attorney Idan Pesach
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Will Lt. Col. Omri Burberg and Staff Sergeant L., the soldiers involved in the Naalin case, receive legal assistance from the defense establishment if a civil suit is filed against them?
An official from the Judge Advocate General's office told Ynet on Tuesday that although the issue has not yet been discussed by the parties, the fact that the two were accused of a relatively minor transgression - conduct unbecoming - hints that the defense establishment will stand behind them, defend them and take responsibility for any outcome in a civilian court.
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The official said that “at the end of the day the prosecution chose to stick with the version that the regiment commander did not intend for the shooting would occur.
“Moreover, the soldier fired because he mistakenly thought that he received an order to do so. Thus, they were indicted on relatively light charges and there is nothing preventing us from providing them assistance from the security establishment if they are sued in a civil court.”
The same official noted that it is likely that under different circumstances, if the two would be accused of severe offenses and convicted in a military court, they would have to contend on their own opposite the civil prosecution.
Attorney Idan Pesach, who represented the soldier Taysir Hayb, who shot and killed British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Rafah, said that the fact that Burberg was accused of non-criminal charge does not necessarily mean he will automatically recieve an advocate from the defense establishment.
Pesach noted that in Hayb’s case, the defense establishment renounced itself from defending him when the Hurndall’s family in London filed a civil suit, since according to the IDF, the soldier deviated from the proper procedures for opening fire and thus was not entitled to the army's defense.
“In this case too, if and when the two will stand before a civil suit, the defense establishment will have to assess if the commander and soldier are truly entitled to receive advocacy,” said the lawyer.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response that that army would assess the situation should a civil lawsuit be filed.
In the meantime, Lt. Col. Burberg, who was dismissed as commander of Regiment 71 following the Naalin incident, will be appointed as head of the armor branch at the Zeelim base.
The officer currently filling this position, Lt. Col. Hagai Amar, will be appointed commander of Regiment 71.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Tuesday that he does not rule out the possibility of reinstating Burberg in the future.