Only nine days after throwing out charges against a young motorcyclist who had badly injured himself, but no one else, in a road accident, Safed Traffic Court Judge Bassam Kandaleft dismissed a similar indictment against another young driver, calling it “cruelty for cruelty’s sake.”
In this second case, Nadar Matias, then 18, hit a tree and was so badly hurt that he was evacuated from the scene in a state of clinical death. He regained consciousness four weeks after the accident, which occurred in November 2011, and after more than a year of treatment at Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center he is still 100 percent disabled, has trouble speaking, and his memory and awareness have been impaired.
In both cases, police prosecutors tried to make the reckless driving charges stick, asking the court to “consider the public interest in the need to deter young drivers.”
But Kandaleft was aghast, saying in both cases, “You can’t help but wonder what public interest is served by conducting this proceeding against the defendant, other than cruelty for cruelty’s sake.”
Matias, who had a female passenger in his car, swerved from his lane into a ditch at the side of the road and hit a tree. His passenger, who was lightly injured, called for help. According to Matias’ attorney, Galil Spigel, “the passenger said Matias was trying to avoid hitting an animal that was crossing the road.”
Matias is far too badly injured to drive, probably ever again. That didn’t stop police prosecutors from filing an indictment for dangerous behavior, reckless driving and swerving out of a traffic lane. According to Spigel, the prosecutors offered a plea bargain under which Matias would do half a year of community service and his license would be suspended for four years.
Spigel asked the court to cancel the charges, saying, “The defendant got his punishment from heaven, and this isn’t the place to punish him again.
“All his plans for the future were suddenly cut short, and he is now dependent on his family and a full-time caregiver and still undergoing difficult treatment,” she continued. “These proceedings constitute a human and public injustice.”
Kandaleft agreed, calling the proceedings “as far apart as heaven and earth from any principle of justice or judicial fairness. I can’t think of a harsher case than this, other than filing an indictment against a driver who died in an accident in which he was involved.
“What else does a new driver have to see to be deterred from committing the violations the defendant allegedly committed in this case?” the judge demanded. “It’s not enough that a youth who was 18 at the time of the accident, his whole future in front of him, is now a broken man who’ll be miserable all his life?”
In the earlier case dismissed by Kandaleft, a 20-year-old had also charged with reckless driving for running his motorcycle into a curb three years earlier. The accident required him to undergo a series of operations and left him partially disabled.