Life for Israeli over Palestinian murder

Yosef Haim Ben David (C) is led into the court in Jerusalem (3 May 2016)Image copyright

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Judges rejected Yosef Haim Ben David’s insanity plea in April and found him guilty

The Israeli ringleader in the killing of a Palestinian teenager who was abducted and burned to death in 2014 has been sentenced to life in prison.

Yosef Haim Ben David, 31, was convicted of murdering Mohammad Abu Khdair, 16, after judges rejected an insanity plea.

Two Israeli youths have also been jailed for their roles in the killing.

Khdair was killed in revenge for the murders of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in a cycle of violence that led to a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip.

His body was discovered in a forest in West Jerusalem on 2 July 2014, two days after the bodies of the Israelis abducted and murdered by Hamas militants that June were found.

The Jerusalem District Court handed Ben David a life sentence plus 20 years for other crimes on Tuesday, and ordered him to pay 150,000 shekels ($40,000; £27,000) to the victim’s family.

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Mohammad Abu Khdair was abducted and murdered in Jerusalem

Hussein Abu Khdair, the Palestinian teen’s father, said he wanted to “see him die in prison”, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Earlier, Ben David had told the court that he wanted to apologise.

“I am sorry for the family. This is not me. I wasn’t in control,” he said.

The court found in November that Ben David had led the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, but postponed a verdict after his lawyer submitted a psychiatric opinion stating his client had not been responsible for his actions.

In April, the court formally rejected Ben David’s insanity plea and found him guilty.

His accomplices, who were aged 17 and 16 at the time of the killing, were jailed for life and 21 years in prison respectively in February.

The three abducted Mohammad Abu Khdair at random as he stood on a road in the Shufat district of East Jerusalem.

The two youths then beat the Palestinian unconscious in the back of a car being driven by Ben David.

One of the minors helped douse Mohammad Abu Khdair with petrol while he was still alive, before Ben David lit a match and set him on fire.

During the attack, Ben David called out the names of Israelis murdered by Palestinians, including the three Israeli teenagers – Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both aged 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach – earlier abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank.

Two Palestinians suspected of their murders were killed by Israeli forces in a gunbattle in Hebron in September 2014. A third man, Hussam Qawasmeh, was sentenced to three life terms in prison in connection with their murders.

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