issa - Nir Keidar - June 10 2011
Islam Issa, left, yesterday. His lawyer says he’s unfit to stand trial. Photo by Nir Keidar
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Islam Issa, 23, of Kafr Qasem, was charged yesterday in Tel Aviv District Court with murder and attempted murder in the series of collisions he caused with his truck on Nakba Day, May 15, which killed one person and injured 17 others.

The prosecution claimed that the vehicular rampage - during which Issa hit a bus, several cars and pedestrians - was a terror attack.

Issa, who has consistently claimed the events were an accident, told the court yesterday through his lawyer that he suffers from a psychiatric problem and was not mentally competent at the time of the incident.

Demanding that Issa be held until the end of legal proceedings, the prosecution argued that "the respondent set out on an indiscriminate, murderous campaign, intending to harm Jews, driving his 15-ton truck at high speed and cruelly crushing everything in his path." Had he not been stopped by hitting a bus and a wall of a school, "he would have continued westward, sowing destruction in his wake," the prosecution continued.

Issa's attorney, Mofid Badir, said they had expected a tough indictment "because the media, the politicians and the prime minister indicted him on the day of the accident."

During the hearing, Badir asked that Issa be sent for a psychiatric evaluation, saying that he hadn't been mentally competent when he committed the acts. Badir said he was basing this argument "on the treatment he received the day before the accident, a week before and a year before."

Asked if it had been psychiatric treatment, Badir responded that it was "emotional, spiritual treatment," and later said he had been treated by a clergyman, "because the family didn't want him exposed to psychiatrists, so he wouldn't be labeled crazy and lose his license."