2000 Ramallah lynch terrorist released from prison
Following a retrial and new evidence which made positive identification difficult, Haitham Muari plead to lesser charges and was released from prison. Victim's father: 'I do not see any reason for the IDF court to deal with an appeal of such a despicable murderer. What do we want to show? That we're just, that we're honest?'
Muari had requested a retrial and his original murder conviction was converted to lesser charges.
He was transferred from Ofer Prison to a checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip.
The lynch occurred on October 12, 2000 when Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami were murdered by a mob at a Palestinian police station where they were being held. The bodies of the two men were thrown out the window and an infamous image of a man whose hands were covered in blood circulated across the world.
Muari was arrested in connection with the lynch in 2000 and has been imprisoned ever since. His life sentence was overturned following a plea bargain in light of evidentiary and legal difficulties in proving his involvement in the attack on Yossi Avrahami.
Simo Avrahami, the father of Yossi Avrahami, said, "What can I change? Can I bring back my Yossi? I can’t. Our sons, among them my own, my oldest, were taken from us. We fight against animals who do not respect life. What could I have done today with the court's decision, which saw fit to reduce the punishment that he got? I do not see any reason for the IDF court to deal with an appeal of such a despicable murderer. What do we want to show? That we're just, that we're honest?"
In reaching the decision to release the Muari, the military court said, "The accused was involved in one of the most heinous events in the consciousness of Israeli citizens. Anyone who bore witness that day will never forget the images of the abuse those IDF soldiers suffered that were circulated on television. According to the indictment that was filed today, the accused played a small part of the incident.
"The accused was among the police who arrested the soldiers and brought them to the police station. The accused beat the soldiers on the way to the police station and, according to the indictment, was not part of the group that attacked the soldiers leading to their death."
During sentencing, the court stated that "as a result of the defendant's actions that day, the accused has been convicted of not preventing a criminal action and attacking a soldier. Both sides presented the plea agreement which dictates his total sentence until his release. Following the arguments of the parties, we decided that the agreement is acceptable."
The IDF Spokesperson's Office issued a statement saying, "The military court in Judea convicted Haitham Muari, as part of a plea bargain reached during a retrial, of being involved in the lynch in Ramallah on October 12, 2000. Muari was convicted in 2004 of murdering one of the victims, SFC. Yossi Avrahami and was sentenced to life in prison.
"Appeals and petitions filed to the High Court by Muari were rejected. However, Muari's request for a retrial was recently accepted and new evidence made definitive identification of Muari difficult at the level required in a criminal case. Muari was convicted today of the offenses of attacking a soldier and not preventing a criminal act. His conviction of other security offenses will remain unchanged and his imprisonment was suspended."
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)