The trial of three men accused of murdering East Jerusalem teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July opened on Monday in the Jerusalem District Court.
The main defendant, Yosef Haim Ben-David, declined to respond to the charges, due to what his lawyer claimed was an inability to communicate. “He’s confused, and it’s clear he’s in denial,” attorney Asher Ohayon said. “He’s in a serious spiral, and he hasn’t managed to get himself out of it.”
The other two defendants, whose names can’t be published because they are both minors, admitted to most of the facts in the indictment, but sought to downplay their role in the killing and denied the charge of premeditated murder. They said they had never had any intention of killing Abu Khdeir, and accused Ben-David of leading them into the murder without their being aware that this was his intention.
Attorney Zion Amir, who is representing one of the minors, said in his response to the charges that following the murder of three Jewish teens by Hamas operatives in June, Ben-David talked openly about his desire to commit a revenge attack and even discussed various ideas for it, including vandalism and assault. Nevertheless, Amir said, his client “denies that he was party to planning a murder.”
Lawyer Avi Himi, representing the other minor, said his client was aware “only of the possibility of damage to property, or at most bodily harm.” Himi also complained that police extracted a confession from his client even though the teenager suffers from complex psychological problems that the investigators knew about. In addition, he said, police deprived his client of sleep, prevented him from consulting a lawyer and failed to either videotape or audiotape the confession.
The three-judge panel will begin hearing evidence in the case on January 15.