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Father of slain Palestinian teen objects to plea deal with Israeli officer

Dec. 20, 2016 1:26 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 20, 2016 4:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The father of a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead at a Nakba rally outside of Ofer prison in 2014 said he strongly objected to the plea deal being prepared for the Israeli border police officer who killed his son.

Siyam Nuwarah told Ma’an Monday evening that he sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General saying that his family was "extremely saddened” about the recently published reports regarding the Attorney General's intent to sign a plea deal, in which the officer would receive a reduced sentence.

Siyam urged the media and human rights organizations to aid him and object to the deal.

At the same rally, 15-year-old Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir was also shot dead by a live bullet to the chest, and at least three other teenagers were injured by live ammunition.

Israeli security forces initially denied responsibility for the teens' deaths on the grounds that live fire wasn’t used during the demonstration, despite eyewitnesses and video evidence of the incident.

An autopsy of Nuwarah's body later showed the youth had been hit by Israeli forces, and a border police officer was charged in connection to the fatal shootings months after they took place.

The indictment against the officer said he had switched rubber-coated bullets with regular bullets on an M-16 while he was present at the protest, and shot Nuwarah in the chest after he allegedly threw a stone.

According to reports from Israeli media earlier this month, the manslaughter charges initially brought against Israeli Border Police officer Ben Dery could be dropped, with Dery's lawyer telling Israeli newspaper Haaretz that prosecutors were discussing a plea bargain in which the officer would admit only to “negligence” -- that a live round found its way into his magazine by mistake as opposed to a rubber-coated steel bullet.

The Israeli court system has received international criticism for its longstanding policy of immunity for Israeli forces, while Palestinians hold widespread distrust for the system.

A joint investigation by Israeli rights group B’Tselem and Hamoked earlier this year reported that Israel’s court system routinely postpones or slows down investigations regarding violations against Palestinians, with the intent of pushing families or individuals to eventually drop their case.
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