Sgt. Azaria's trial draws to a close
As court hears the final speeches from the defense and prosecution teams, defense attorney insists 'he feared a bona fide threat,' accuses Ya'alon of rocking the state by issuing premature judgments of his client; prosecution says defendant should be given no quarter: 'He told lie after lie after lie. There was no consistency in his testimony.'
Azaria is facing manslaughter charges after he shot to death a seriously wounded Palestinian terrorist, Abed al Fatah al-Sharif, in Hebron in March
During the final session military prosecutor Lt. Col. Nadav Weisman sought to undermine the credibility of the defendant, reiterating previous points in which he accused Azaria of repeatedly lying during his testimony.
Weisman also argued that Azaria changed his version of what transpired on the day of the shooting and charged that he fabricated a story according to which his commander Maj. Tom Na'aman slapped him in front of people present at the scene. Weisman highlighted that the claim could easily be refuted due to the fact that nobody appears to have witnessed any such incident.
Arguing that Azaria should be given no quarter for his actions, Weisman outlined the various levels of manslaughter in an effort to convince the judge that Azaria’s case fell in the most serious category.
“When a soldier plays with his gun he doesn’t want to kill his friend which is why it is attributed to the less severe threshold of the offense. When a soldier shoots a terrorist knowing that he is going to take his life this is the higher threshold,” he said.
Weisman then returned to the apparent contradictions in Azaria’s testimony, once again accusing him of being a liar. “His version is just lie after lie after lie. There is no consistency. He did not only lie but he also falsely accused his commander,” he declared.
Weisman, who lost his voice during the day, said that the various versions offered by Azaria were merely his attempts “to shape his own verdict. He wants a new law—the Azaria law which does not require any legislation. I call upon the court to determine that the defendant lied, falsely accused and is not worthy of any faith or belief. His claims are false.”
Azaria’s lawyer Ilan Katz cited what he described as the contamination of the judicial process. “The prosecutor is essentially saying, ‘watch the video and hang Azaria in the city square.’ It was not Azaria’s actions that rocked the state but the things said by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in which he said that Azaria transgressed after the incident.”
His second defense attorney, Eyal Beserglick emphasized that from a point of view of mental objectivity, Azaria’s fear of a bona fide threat led him to shoot the terrorist in self defense. “In reality, the prosecutor is claiming that Elor is guilty of murder,” Beserglick said. “Azaria’s testimony was consistent and the things he remembered during the trial were due to his mental state. We have proposed that he be interrogated again by the Military Criminal Investigation Division.”