3 Years After Indictment, Israeli Man to Confess to Murdering Female Relative in Plea Deal

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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The defendants in Hanan al-Bahiri's murder case arrive at a court hearing, Be'er Sheva, June 18, 2017.
The defendants in Hanan al-Bahiri's murder case arrive at a court hearing, Be'er Sheva, June 18, 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Israel’s State Prosecutor recently signed a plea deal with three men accused of murdering a young female relative, according to which a cousin will admit to murdering her while his father, one of the girl’s uncles, and another uncle will admit to aiding and abetting her murder.

The three suspects – Younes al-Bahirit, 47, his brother Sager, 28 and Youne’s son, 24-year-old Mahmad – were indicted in 2017 for the murder of 19-year old Hanan al-Bahiri, a resident of the Bedouin town of Lakiya. They were also accused of breaking Bahiri’s neck, burning her body and burying the remains near their home.

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The prosecutor signed the deal, even though five months ago it expressed concern that the cousin was forced to avoid testifying in his own defense in court.

Hanan al-Bahiri, 19, who was murdered in May 2017. Credit: Courtesy of the al-Bahiri family

The men were charged with were for kidnapping, premeditated murder, destruction of evidence and intimidation. The indictment alleged that they kidnapped and murdered her after she and her husband divorced because they feared she would begin dating.

According to the plea deal, which is to be presented Thursday in Be’er Sheva District Court, Younes and Sager will plead guilty to aiding and abetting murder and destroying evidence, and will serve 10 years in prison, while Mahmad will plead guilty to murder and serve a life sentence. Bahiri’s family will receive 300,000 shekels ($87,000) in damages.

Officials in the State Prosecutor’s Office believed that the dominant figure among the three is Younes, who the indictment states broke Hanan’s neck. He implicated Sager and Mahmad in his court testimony, distancing himself from the murder. Sager said that he had not yet decided whether or not to testify.

However, Mahmad, whose testimony was deemed critical by the prosecution, stated about half a year ago that he refused to testify in his own defense hearing – a rare move in a murder case, and one that could be used against him. Consequently, the prosecution sought to split up the case, a request that was accepted.

The plea bargain calls for amending the indictment regarding the question of who broke Hanan’s neck. Although legally this question is marginal because it was impossible to determine whether breaking her neck led to her death, the indictment was altered in favor of Younes. Now it will state that the cause of her death is unknown.

Sources familiar with the case said Younes had been originally accused of breaking her neck because he had apparently confessed to doing so to the Ayarot police commander in an unrecorded conversation, outside the investigation room, and without him being cautioned in advance.

Attorney Avner Shemesh, who represents Mahmad, said: “There are indeed talks [occuring] to reach a plea deal … we have to wait and see if there is progress.” The state prosecutor added that “We cannot comment on details of the deal before it is presented to the court as is the norm

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