Court Rejects Police Attempt to Blame Cop Killing of Palestinian on Victim's Cousin

Ali Nimr to remain in custody after police claim his driving forced them to shoot him cousin dead, but only due to his past traffic violations.

Palestinians look at a damaged car belonging to a Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli security forces after he attempted to ram his vehicle into Israeli border guards  early in the morning in the Shufat refugee camp, in east Jerusalem, on September 5, 2016.
Hazem Bader, AFP

A Palestinian man from East Jerusalem will remain in police custody for his suspected role in the lethal shooting of his cousin by Israeli police officers earlier this week, court ruled Thursday. The Jerusalem Magistrate Court however rejected the police's allegation that his driving made him responsible for his cousin's death.

Ali Nimr, 25, was driving a vehicle police shot at on Monday morning near the Shoafat refugee camp in northeastern Jerusalem, killing his cousin Mustafa. Police initially said that the two men were planning to carry out a car-ramming attack, but a day later retracted their claim and said that they were looking into other leads. They then accused Ali Nimr of traffic violations and of being responsible for his cousin's death, saying that his reckless driving prompted police suspicions.  

A video aired by Israeli media on Wednesday appears to support suspicions that Israel Police officers who shot and killed Mustafa Nimr in East Jerusalem this week were posed no threat by the two.

Ali Nimr, cousin of Mustafa Nimr who was killed by Israeli border police in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, in court, September 8, 2016.

On Thursday, a police representative said at the hearing that Nimr confessed to driving under the influence, but the officer admitted that police found no evidence to suggest Nimr was trying to hurt the cops out of political motives.

Though Judge Shaul Gabai Richter accepted the police's request to extend Nimr's arrest, he said there was no probable cause to support the police's allegations of manslaughter, saying there was "a significant gap" in evidence supporting the connection between Ali Nimr and his role in his cousin's death.

The judge added that the reason he had agreed to the police's request to keep Nimr in custody was the fact that he was driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and had previous traffic offences. These traffic offences, he said, were sufficient grounds to prove he was a possible danger to society.

"This is yet another example of a case in which the police's finger is light on the trigger," Nimr's attorney said. "After seeing the results [of their actions], the easiest thing was to say it was a car-ramming attempt."

He called the police's allegation that Nimr's driving prompted the cops to shot his cousin "baseless."

Nimr's family accused the police of cover-up after the court hearing. "These are not policemen, these are criminals," his brother said, adding that Mustafa Nimr was killed for nothing.