Manslaughter Charge May Be Dropped Against Israeli Policeman Who Killed Palestinian

Ben Dery is accused of firing live bullets against orders in the death of a 17-year-old.

Nadim Nuwara (center) a moment after being shot in Bitunya, May 15, 2014.
Mohamad Torokman, Reuters

A Border Police officer accused of killing a Palestinian teen in 2014 is being offered a plea bargain in which he will admit only to negligence, his lawyer said on Monday.

Ben Dery was charged two years ago for firing live bullets against orders, resulting in the death of 17-year-old Palestinian Nadim Nuwara. The indictment said Dery, who served as a squad commander in a company, hid the fact that he was firing live bullets against orders.

Video shows shooting incident at Beitunia in 2014. CNN, YouTube

His attorney Zion Amir and the Honenu organization that also represents Dery said that the state will retract the manslaughter charge and the allegation that he purposefully placed live rounds in his rifle’s magazine. Dery claims that he thought he was only firing rubber bullets.

Amir said that at the most Dery was negligent for not making sure that a live bullet didn’t find its way into the magazine, which was meant to contain only rubber bullets. "We aren’t commenting until the final stage of the trial, but are pleased with the fact that after two-and-a-half years of trial, the prosecution has retracted its claims," he said.

On May 15, Nakba Day, Dery’s company was stationed in several places in Beitunia, a West Bank town near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. At 11 A.M., Dery, together with other policemen from his unit, were on a terrace overlooking the road leading from Beitunia to the separation barrier and the crossing point for goods that is located there.

The indictment states that they were given orders to only fire rubber bullets at the demonstrators there. Dery had an M-16 rifle with an attachment for firing rubber bullets. A magazine containing rubber bullets together with blanks was marked in red. Dery replaced the bullets in the marked magazine with live M-16 rounds. At 1:45 P.M., four minutes after Nuwara threw a stone at the troops, Dery shot him in the chest, killing him.

The Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers did not confirm the details, and responded that "the case is ongoing, we don’t comment on the existence of negotiations with defense attorneys.