VIDEO - The Tel Aviv military court ruled Thursday that Lieutenant-Colonel Omri Borberg, the battalion commander who was involved in the Naalin shooting incident, will not be demoted. The judges ruled such a punishment "will gravely hurt him" and recommended his promotion be postponed for two years. Borberg broke into tears as the sentence was being read.
The judges noted that despite the harsh nature of the offence there is more to the case than meets the eye, and admitted the decision on the punishment was not an easy one.
The court stated that Borberg has already suffered a listing on his criminal record and noted that a demotion will hurt him very gravely. It was unanimously decided he will not be demoted, but also that he will not serve in a commander's capacity for a period of one year. The panel recommended his promotion be postponed for two years. This effectively means the officer will not serve a prison sentence or community service.
Borberg said he completely agrees with the court's ruling regarding his role in the Naalim shooting affair. "It's hard to describe the heavy load I've been carrying lately. I'm glad it's over," he said.
He added: "All I care about now is to return to my family, to my daughter, and continue contributing to the IDF."
In the case of the soldier who shot the complainant, SSgt. Leonardo Corea, who has already been discharged from the IDF, the court ruled he will be demoted to private and will not be subjected to a prison sentence or community service. The panel determined that the soldier did not seek to abuse the Palestinian and noted he had already suffered a listing in his criminal record.
The complainant, Ashraf Abu Rahma commented on the sentence Thursday and said: "This officer committed a crime. The court's decision is unreasonable. I can't understand how he can remain in the army after you see him on tape giving an order to shot at me."
Video left lasting impression
The Naalin shooting has become one of the most talked about affairs in the IDF in recent years. The video showing the battalion commander holding protestor Ashraf Abu Rahma, while bound and blindfolded, as SSgt. Corea fired rubber bullets at his legs, left a lasting impression in Israel and the world in terms of IDF soldiers' moral conduct.
Lt. Col. Borberg was charged with threats and SSgt. Corea was charged with unlawful use of weapons. The two were convicted last July. The judges did not spare any criticism and ruled that Borberg had indeed tried to "threaten Ashraf's life in an unlawful manner."
The court ruled that the officer's acts were unlawful and non-proportionate.
In a court hearing held last week, Borberg broke into tears and addressed Corea taking full responsibility for the incident. "I paid for this mistake and will continue paying for it because people will always watch the video and remember it," he said and pleaded to be allowed back into combat service.
"It was a stupid idea. A bad idea, I will never do it again but one cannot view it outside the context. I enlisted to fight with a tank and rifle, not with e-mails as I do now. "
Yoav Zitun and Elior Levy contributed to this report
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