Israel Prison Service Postpones Decision on Be'er Sheva Lynch Suspect Till Next Week

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Suspects in the Be'er Sheva lynching in court, October 22, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkowitz

The decision on whether to dismiss Prison Service officer Ronen Cohen, who is suspected of involvement in the mob attack on Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum in Be'er Sheva last week, will be announced next week.

Cohen, who holds the rank of Inspector, was one of two Prison Service personnel filmed assaulting Zarhum after he had been mistaken for a Palestinian terrorist and shot. Cohen appeared before a hearing on Thursday.

Security video of the incident at the Be'er Sheva central bus station shows Cohen kicking Zarhom and throwing a bench at him. Zarhum subsequently died of his injuries.

The day after Cohen was arrested, the Prison Service issued a statement saying that "The commissioner of prisons deplores the gross behavior of the warders who are suspected of being involved. Such violence is contrary to the values of the organization. Following the completion of the investigation into the incident, we will act to discipline the participants and eject them from the service."

The hearing of Prison Service warden Hanania Shabat, who is also suspected of participating in the attack, will be held next week.

Cohen and Shabat are among the four suspects currently in detention. The Prosecutor's Office is still considering whether to charge them with aggravated bodily harm, an offense that carries a mzimum prison sentence of 20 years..

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