Palestinian Who Ran Over Policemen in West Bank Acquitted

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Israeli Border Police. (illustrative) Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Ofer military court last week acquitted a Palestinian charged with attempted murder after he ran over a group of Border Policemen in the West Bank last March. The court criticized the police investigation into the incident, which was ruled an accident. The man was convicted of negligent driving.

The incident occurred on the evening of March 15. A group of Border Police officers were standing at a gas station near the village of Beit Ummar, on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron. Assam Adi had refueled his car but ran over the policemen while exiting the station, slightly injuring two officers. One of the policemen fired a single shot at Adi’s vehicle. The Border Police claimed that it was a murder attempt and the military prosecution filed charges to this effect. Adi was remanded until the conclusion of all legal proceedings. The entire incident was captured on security cameras.

Adi’s attorney, Fadi Qawasmi, argued that his client was driving an old vehicle that had no permits. He claimed Adi was out getting food and had stopped to refuel. He noticed the policemen and became worried that he would be stopped. He was fiddling with the car radio when he accidentally stepped on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. He realized his mistake and tried to stop before hitting the men, but could not completely stop the car.

During the trial, it emerged that the surveillance camera clearly showed the car’s brake lights going on, but the Judea and Samaria police investigator ignored this before determining that it was a deliberate assault.

Last week, three judges acquitted Adi of the attempted murder charges, writing, “The report submitted by police investigators lacked data, with the investigator not providing adequate explanations.

“He failed to conduct an in-depth investigation into a possible fault in the car’s operation or regarding the presence of any slippery substances on the car’s tires,” they wrote, adding, “The investigator ignored the driver’s claims that he had pressed the wrong pedal.”

The judges added that the most notable oversight was “the investigator ignoring the car’s attempts to stop, clearly seen on camera. The only issue was the timing of the attempted braking, not its existence.”

They noted that the brake lights went on at the moment of impact at the very latest – the time required for implementing this decision to stop indicated that the accused wished to stop before the moment of impact.

The judges found the accused guilty of negligent driving causing injury. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison, which he had already served while awaiting trial, resulting in his release.

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