Life Imprisonment for Murderers of Danny Katz in 1983

The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday sentenced the five men convicted last week of the murder of 14-year-old Danny Katz life sentences for murder and 15 years for kidnapping. The court did however make the sentences concurrent rather than accumulative.

In 1999, Supreme Court President, Justice Aharon Barak ordered a retrial of the five - Samir Janami, Fathi Janama, Ali Janim, Ahmed Kuzli and Ataf Sabihi - following claims that they had been pressured into confessing and reenacting the murder of Katz. Convictions in the original trial were based on the defendants' confessions and reenactions.

The court also accepted defense attorney Avigdor Feldman's demand that the life sentences of two of the defendants - Kuzli and Sabihi - be served concurrently to their life sentences for the 1982 murder of a woman soldier, Dafna Carmon.

The judges wrote in their ruling that the hearing on the sentencing of the defendants had focused not on the question of the gravity of the defendants' deeds or the tragedy that had befallen the deceased and his family, but rather on the complicated legal aspects resulting from the retrial. "Words are sometimes pale in comparison to reality, and it is doubtful whether words have the power to describe the enormity of the horror of the deed, whose dry facts are to be found in the indictment and in the facts determined in the ruling (of the retrial).

Prosecutor Rafi Levi had asked the court to sentence the defendants to accumulative sentences for each of the crimes they had been committed of, however, the court stated that the question of whether the sentences should be accumulative for each offense was dictated by the original ruling of the Haifa District Court.

Feldman claimed that because the Haifa District Court had not stated specifically that the sentences be served accumulatively, they should therefore be served concurrently. The court accepted Feldman's claim, saying that where the court does not state its parole then the law does so.

However, the court said that its decision to impose concurrent sentences was in no way a value judgement on the appropriate sentence and that had it seen itself free to impose the appropriate sentence, it would have adopted Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin's words on the Ami Popper case - "a life sentence for each soul".