Border Police Officer Indicted for Killing Neighbor

A Border Police superintendent was indicted yesterday for shooting his neighbor to death on Kibbutz Zikim last month.

The Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department indictment of Nir Somech states the officer was not under threat at the time of the shooting.

Somech claimed in his interrogation that he shot at his neighbor Ben Tal in self-defense, after Tal attacked him with an iron rod. However, eyewitness testimonies suggest Tal was not holding a rod or any other object, and did not attempt to attack Somech, the indictment states.

Eyewitnesses also said Tal shouted at Somech, "shoot, shoot." Somech's wife reportedly shouted at him not to shoot. Ballistic tests carried out by police suggest that Somech fired at Tal's left side, when the latter was standing less than a meter away, bending down. Somech claimed he shot at Tal when he was standing upright and directly in front of him.

"This was a murder that could have been averted. Everything is in the hands of the court now," said Tal's mother, Aviva Tal, at the hearing yesterday. "We knew from the start that Ben was not a violent man and didn't try to hurt anyone. It was always clear he didn't come there with a metal rod," she said.

Referring to the officer's family, standing nearby, the mother said, "Their son will get out from prison some day and pick up his life again, but our son is dead."

Nathan Tal, the victim's father, said he was nearly speechless when he heard about the indictment.

"I don't feel any satisfaction at all. I only feel sorrow for two ruined families. Can you ever be satisfied when you have buried your son?" he said.

According to police, Tal and Somech had been fighting for years. The officer and his wife told police that Tal harassed and threatened them.

Somech's attorney, Avi Himi, maintained yesterday the shooting was carried out in self-defense.

"This is tragic for everyone involved," said Himi. "However, the murder charge is absolutely unfounded. This outstanding officer claims he was defending himself, and that unless he acted as he did, he would have sustained serious injury. The eyewitnesses quoted in the indictment only saw parts of incident."

The Police Investigations Department also requested to extend Somech's remand until the conclusion of proceedings, saying the alleged offense was committed in aggravated circumstances.