Four men suspected of beating and kicking an Eritrean national after he was mistaken for a terrorist and shot dead in Be’er Sheva’s bus terminal earlier this week were released on bail Thursday.
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Eritrean asylum-seeker Haftom Zarhum was shot by a security guard and attacked by a mob that thought he was the Palestinian gunman who had just killed a soldier and wounded 11 other people.
One of the suspects, a Prison Service officer, was named as Ronen Cohen. The names of the other suspects, including another Prison Service warden, were not released for publication.
Cohen’s attorney Ido Porat said, “The only lynching that took place here was by the media.”
He said Cohen kicked Zarhom because he suspected he was the killer. Magistrate’s Court Judge Amir Doron said: “From the moment that person was lying on the ground in his blood and unable to do anything that endangers the people around him, there was no place, justification or need on the respondent’s part to join in the violent acts.”
The suspects were arrested on Wednesday after they were identified from the CCTV footage showing the people beating Zarhum. Although the police identified some of them earlier, they waited for the autopsy results, which showed Zarhum had been killed by the gunshots fired by the station security officer, not by the beating.
Channel 10 yesterday aired a clip showing a number of soldiers kicking Zarhum with great force. A civilian is seen holding a knife while around them curses are heard and shouts of “kill him” from the crowd.
The prosecution asked the court to place the four suspects under house arrest, but the judge said they did not pose sufficient danger to justify that and ordered their release. However, they were forbidden from contacting one another.