Israeli Suspect in Attack on African Migrants' Property Gets Off With Light Plea Bargain

Human rights lawyer petitions AG after indictment against suspect changed from perpetrator to accomplice in arson incident in south Tel Aviv eight months ago.

Or Kashti
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Or Kashti
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An Israeli human rights lawyer on Wednesday demanded that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein overturn a plea bargain reached with a man indicted for hurling firebombs at homes and a kindergarten belonging to African migrants in south Tel Aviv.

The prosecution signed a plea bargain with the defendant, 21-year-old Haim Moula of Tel Aviv, offering a lenient penalty after he was initially charged with throwing the firebombs into the buildings eight months ago. Moulla instead received a lesser conviction, of serving as accomplice rather than perpetrator, in the incident.

Attorney Gabi Lasky petitioned Weinstein on Wednesday to cancel the arrangement with Moula on the grounds that the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office did not inform some of the victims that a plea bargain had been reached, thus violating the rights granted to victims of such attacks.

Eight firebombs were thrown at four private homes and into the backyard of a kindergarten run by African refugees and migrants in south Tel Aviv's Shapira neighborhood on April 27. The incident occurred while children were sleeping in the kindergarten building. While the firebombs caused severe damage to the property, no one was hurt.

Moula was arrested the following day, and on May 17, the prosecutor submitted a severe indictment charging him with arson and causing malicious damage. According to the indictment, Moula threw the firebomb himself, causing a "fountain of fires in the houses of the asylum seekers."

The Voice of Israel radio station reported this week that the prosecutor altered the indictment against Moula, changing the charges from perpetrator to accomplice in arson. The police have still not charged any other party with actually throwing the firebomb.

The amendments to the indictment also saw the removal of charges involving two of the homes and the kindergarten targeted in the attack. Moula is now expected to serve six months of community service in light of the altered amendment.

"Victims of severe violence have the right to express their position on plea bargains reached with the accused before a decision is made on the matter," Lasky wrote in her appeal to the attorney general. "In this case, the very existence of the plea bargain was not brought to the attention of the victims of the crime [or at least some of them], and they only learned of its existence via media reports."

Haim Moula, left, is pictured after he confronted activists at a protest in support of migrants' rights.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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