Two Israelis Charged With Manslaughter in Death of Sudanese Man

The suspects, a 20-year-old and 16-year-old from Petah Tikva, avoid murder charges because the prosecution believes the attacks were spontaneous.

Illustration: A man in handcuffs.
Illustration: A man in handcuffs. Eyal Varshavsky

An Israeli man and a teenager have been charged with manslaughter in the death of a Sudanese national in Petah Tikva last month.

The prosecution has accused 20-year-old Dennis Barshivatz, and minor, 16, both from the central Israeli city, of beating the man to death in five separate incidents over the course of 75 minutes. Barshivatz has also been charged with interfering with legal proceedings. Neither suspect has a criminal record.

Although the police pressed for a murder charge, the Prosecutor's Office believes the attacks were spontaneous without any prior intention of killing. The death was caused as a result of the cumulative blows, but the prosecution thinks it is impossible to determine which of them killed the victim. The suspects were said to have been indifferent to the results of their actions and to the life of the Sudanese man, but they cannot be accused of premeditated murder.

According to the indictment submitted by attorney Liat Gilboa to the Central District Court, the defendants came to Petah Tikva's city hall square at around midnight on November 14. They saw a Sudanese man approach three 16-year-old girls who were sitting and talking nearby. As the man walked toward the teenagers, they panicked and yelled at him to leave. The minor came closer to the Sudanese man and shouted at him. The victim raised his hands and started to leave, and as he walked away with his back to the 16-year-old, the teen started kicking him and threw a beer can at him.

The Sudanese national had left the scene, but the minor continued to kick him with great force, causing him to fall on his back. While the victim was sprawled on the sidewalk, the teenager kicked him several more times in his upper torso, neck and head. The Sudanese man didn't react to the attack.

Barshivatz, who was nearby, ran to where the victim was lying. When the Sudanese man tried to get up, Barshivatz kicked him hard, and the victim’s head hit the sidewalk. Barshivatz continued to kick him on three separate occasions while also pushing him and attacking him with his fists. The man remained on the sidewalk.

New details obtained by Haaretz indicate that police and Magen David Adom rescue services arrived immediately thereafter, at about 12:30 A.M., after the teenage girls reported the attack. The suspects had left the scene and the victim, who was lying on the sidewalk, recovered and stood up. He claimed that he hadn't been attacked and refused to leave the area.

The police and MDA left a few minutes later, and at about 1 A.M. the victim once again approached the girls, who again panicked and shouted. They left the area, and the suspects, who had meanwhile returned, resumed beating him.

During the entire incident the Sudanese man was helpless, and did not attack the suspects. There are indications that he smelled of alcohol and was inebriated.

Five witnesses were present at different times for parts of the incident, but none saw it in its entirety. One of them tried to prevent Barshivatz from attacking the victim. During Barshivatz’s final attack, the Sudanese man was heard gurgling and the young men ran away. No one contacted rescue services until after the two fled. At about 1:45 A.M. the first responders arrived back on the scene and evacuated the victim to the hospital.

The Sudanese national was evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva in serious condition with a head injury, and received medical care there. On Friday November 18, four days after the incident, he died in the hospital from brain stem bleeding caused by the blunt blows to his head.

The indictment states that Barshivatz interfered with legal proceedings when he failed to report for questioning, despite the fact that police officers came to his home several times. When a police officer came to arrest him, Barshivatz fled. He was caught a week later.

“The indictment was served for the crime of manslaughter, as opposed to the opinion of the police – which indicates acceptance of my client’s version of the incident," said Barshivatz's attorney Itay Rozin. "After receiving the investigative material we will give our answer to the indictment in court,” he added.

Attorney Avi Cohen, who is the minor's public defendant, said that "This was a tragic incident and there was no intention to cause the deceased’s death. The facts in the indictment indicate that the involvement of the adult defendant is what caused the tragic death of the deceased. We will study the investigative material and respond in court.”