Israelis convicted of murdering Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdair


Two 17-year-old Israelis have been found guilty of the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdair, who was abducted and burned to death in Jerusalem last year .

On Monday, a panel of three judges at the Jerusalem District Court found the minors guilty. They will be sentenced in mid-January.

Judges also postponed a verdict on a 31-year-old man, for a mental health review.

Abu Khdair’s body was discovered on 2 July 2014, following what was believed to be a revenge attack after the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

Police believe Abu Khdair was forced into a car near the East Jerusalem area of Beit Hannina, and his body was found around an hour later.

At the time Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned what he said was a “horrible and barbaric murder”.

Israeli media said the Palestinian’s death was a “revenge killing” following the burial of teenagers Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach, who were kidnaped and murdered in the West Bank.

The killings were part of an escalating cycle of violence, culminating in a war between Israel and militants in Gaza.
The convicted teenagers, whose names have not been released, and Yosef Haim Ben David, were charged with Abu Khdair's murder.
The judges found that Mr Ben David, who during the trial was portrayed as the ringleader, had participated in the abduction and murder. They added however that a psychiatric evaluation of Ben David needed to be carried out.

The court heard how the two teenagers, who were 16 at the time, beat the Palestinian boy unconscious in the back of a car being driven by Mr Ben David.

Judged said one of the minors threw petrol over Abu Khdair while he was still alive, before Mr Ben David lit a match and set him on fire.

Both teenagers confessed to the abduction in court, but one claimed that he was not involved in the killing.

During the trial, Abu Khdair's father, Hussein, said Mr Ben David was trying to mislead the court.

He said: “How can the defendant, two days ago, a year-and-a-half after the crime, bring a document claiming insanity?

"It's all lies and I worry that the court will free them in the end."

The prosecutor, Uri Corb, said he would contest any insanity plea Mr Ben David made.

Mr Corb said: "When we try to claim that we are better than our enemies - and I think that we are better than them - we should look at this event as a mirror.

"As a society we will continue to fight all avengers and lynchers, as we did in this case."

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