Palestinian Convicted of Car-ramming Murder in East Jerusalem

Judges reject defendant’s claims of mental incapacity and vehicular malfunctioning in attack that killed Shalom Yohai Sherki last year.

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The Jerusalem District Court convicted Khaled Kutina of murder and attempted murder Wednesday for committing the car-ramming attack that killed Shalom Yohai Sherki and seriously injured Shira Klein a year ago at the capital’s French Hill junction.

Kutina, of Anata, drove his car at high speed into Sherki and Klein, who were waiting at a bus stop at the junction at night on April 15, 2015. Sherki died the following morning from his injuries.

During questioning Kutina said he had wanted to take revenge on the Jews for the difficulty he had going through the checkpoint. “I wanted to take revenge because my life in Anata isn’t good, it’s miserable because that checkpoint always makes traffic jams.” Testifying in court, however, he claimed not to remember the incident.

Video of car-ramming attack that killed Shalom Yohai Sherki and seriously injured Shira Klein on April 15, 2015.

During the court hearings Kutina’s lawyers tried to argue that he wasn’t responsible for his actions and wasn’t fit to stand trial because of his mental state. They also argued that his car had malfunctioned. But the judges rejected these claims.

“The conclusion regarding the formulation of a decision to kill by the accused emerges, first and foremost, from the ramming itself, and from the specific circumstances and their consequences,” wrote Judges Yoram Noam, Rivka Friedman-Feldman and Moshe Bar-Am.

“The ramming was committed by the accused by deliberately swerving his car toward the victim and the deceased at high speed while accelerating, and the serious results, including the throwing of the victims into the air, led to the deceased’s fatal injuries and serious injuries to Shira; moreover, the crushing of the vehicle and the destruction of the bus stop demonstrated [the collision’s] intensity,” the judges ruled.

“These circumstances regarding the nature of the ramming and its results clearly indicate a ‘decision to kill,’ that is, that the accused knew in advance of the possible fatal result of his actions, intended to cause the deaths of the deceased and the injured, and wanted that goal to be realized,” according to the verdict.