The defense team of Lieutenant-Colonel Omri Borberg and Staff-Sergeant (res.) Leonardo Corea, who were involved in the shooting of a bound Palestinian protestor two years ago, tried to convince judges to mitigate their sentence on Wednesday.
The prosecution is pushing for Borberg's demotion, a former commander of Battalion 71 in the Armored Corps, which will in effect end his military career.
Three months ago the special military court on the Kirya base convicted Borberg of attempted threats and his soldier Staff Sgt. Corea, of illegal use of a weapon. Both of them were also convicted of inappropriate behavior.
Two high ranking IDF officers reported to the special military court in order to testify as the ex-battalion commander's character witnesses on Wednesday. Major-General Gershon Hacohen, commander of IDF colleges and former commander of the 36th Division testified in favor of Borberg.
"He's the finest of men, a man whose judgment can be trusted," he said. "The incident he was involved in is not a moral failure but an operational accident. The fact that his tenure as battalion commander has been suspended is punishment enough."
Ground Forces Command Major-General Sami Turjeman is also slated to testify in favor of Borberg whom he knows well.
Facing 3 years in prison
What started as a routine protest of a few dozen Palestinians and left-wing activists in the West Bank village of Naalin on July 7, 2008 turned into one of the IDF's most significant command and legal matters in recent years. Staff Sgt. Corea fired rubber bullets from close range at anti-fence protestor Ashraf Ibrahim Abu Rahma as he was blindfolded and bound and hit close to his shoe.
The maximum punishment Corea and Borberg face is three years in prison.
The judges ruled that Abu Rahma did not pose a threat and that the Borberg's actions were unlawful. It was further stated that the incident had caused significant damage to the reputation of the IDF, its commanders and soldiers.
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