Dennis Bershevitz, 20, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in a plea bargain, the victim’s family was told. The other defendant, a minor, 16, was convicted of grievous bodily harm under the plea deal and the court is to decide on his punishment, since the prosecution failed to reach an agreement with the minor. The two will also pay compensation to the victim’s family.
The two were arrested in November last year after the body of Babikir Ali Adham-Abdo, a 40-year-old asylum seeker from Sudan, was found near the Petah Tikva municipality building. Security cameras showed the two defendants vehemently kicking the victim, whom they said had addressed them and a girl who was with them.
At first the two were both charged with killing the asylum seeker, but due to the difficulty in proving which one of them had caused his death with his kicks, they were sent to arbitration. There it was agreed to sign a plea bargain and amend the indictment, changing the minor’s charge to causing bodily harm with grievous intent and mitigating Bershevitz’s penalty.
Adham-Abdo’s family in Sudan and his brother in Israel were briefed on the plea bargain, but were not given its exact content. The family expressed dissatisfaction and disappointment with the killers’ punishment.
“We know plea bargains are customary here, but my clients, the victims, feel they did not get their day in court to have their say, and they received no answers to their questions. They are left with an extremely unpleasant feeling, in addition to the tragedy that has befallen them,” said the family’s lawyer Shalom Zadok.
Moussa, the victim’s cousin, claimed the sentence would have been different if the victim were Israeli. “We don’t agree to the penalties. We thought there was justice in the Israeli courts, we thought Israel was a state of justice. If the victim had been an Israeli the outcome would have been different. There’s racism here,” he said.
People close to the minor said the attack was not racially motivated, but was triggered by an argument between the victim and a group of youths, which turned into a violent brawl, after the asylum seeker made offensive comments at women passing by.
The prosecution said, “The penalty reflects the customary penalty level in similar offenses and circumstances.”
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