A former Border Policeman who was convicted of shooting to death an unarmed Palestinian teenager was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in prison in a plea agreement.
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Ben Dery for shooting to death of Nadim Nuwara, 17, at the Beitunia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah in 2014. He was also fined 50,000 shekels. Under the deal, he was charged with causing death through negligence and causing severe bodily harm instead of the original charge of manslaughter.
In reading out the sentence, Judge Daniel Tepperberg called the accused’s act “severe,” saying that the “degree of negligence was significant and warranted prison time."
In fact, the judge gave a sentence that was on the lower end of what is considered acceptable for the crime — between eight months to two years imprisonment. He explained this by noting the accused had cooperated in forging a plea agreement and noted the fact that he had no previous criminal record. The judge described Dery as “an excellent police officer who was conscientious about orders. Those around him valued him.”
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The incident occurred on May 15, Nakba Day, when Palestinians mark the loss of their homeland in 1948. Dery’s company was stationed in several places in Beitunia, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. At 11 A.M. – together with other Border Police officers from his unit – Dery was on a terrace overlooking the road leading from Beitunia to the West Bank separation barrier and the checkpoint located there.
The indictment states that the officers were given clear orders to fire only rubber bullets at the demonstrators. 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 Israeli forces, Dery shot him in the chest, killing him.Soldiers at the scene said they had not fired live rounds, but only rubber bullets and teargas- and stun grenades. During the investigaiton by the Israel Defense Forces Central Command, it emerged that the troops who fired the live bullets were from the Border Police. Nuwara's autopsy showed clear evidence that live bullets had been fired.
Siam Nuwara, the father of Nadim, told Haaretz that, "We are not surprised by the ridiculous sentence. As soon as the plea agreement was signed we knew that this was the direction.
"It's interesting that the boy Ahmed Mansara, who was convicted, gets 13 years in prison," said Nuwara, referring to a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for stabbing a Jewish boy riding his bicycle in Jerusalem in October, 2015. The Supreme Court subsequently reduced Mansara's sentence to nine-and-a-half years.
"Meanwhile Ben Dery who murders – and I am convinced that he intentionally committed murder – gets nine months and in the height of hutzpah I hear that they are considering appealing the severity of the sentence," said Nuwara."My boy was murdered in cold blood and we did the autopsy which was for us as though he was murdered a second time, and all this did not convince the court. That's because in the final analysis we are dealing with an entire system that discriminates on the basis of race and arrives at decisions that are far from just."