Israeli soldier facing manslaughter
01 April 2016, 14:48
Jerusalem - An Israeli soldier caught on video shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay on the ground is being investigated for manslaughter and not murder, the military said on Thursday.
Prosecutors had reportedly first considered a murder charge against the 19-year-old soldier, but told a military court during Thursday's hearing that it was investigating him for manslaughter, Israeli media reported.
An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the reports to AFP.
Prosecutors were also seeking to extend the remand of the soldier, who was arrested after the March 24 shooting. A decision had not yet been issued.
The lawyer for the soldier, who has not yet been charged, welcomed the prosecutors' move.
"The significance from our point of view is that, first of all, the prosecution has climbed down," Ilan Katz told army radio.
"I believe that in a short time that suspicion will also be dropped."
Under Israeli law, manslaughter signifies an intentional but not premeditated killing.
Top military and government officials have strongly condemned the soldier's behaviour, but far-right politicians and protesters have reacted angrily to his arrest and demanded his release.
The 19-year-old soldier's identity and that of his family remained secret under a gag order, granted at the request of his lawyers.
Allegedly stabbed a soldier
Video of the March 24 killing in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron spread widely online, sparking heated political debate.
It showed a 21-year-old Palestinian, who along with another man had allegedly stabbed a soldier minutes earlier, lying on the ground, apparently after being shot.
The soldier then shoots him again, in the head, without any apparent provocation. The Palestinian, Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, was killed.
The case has threatened to further provoke Israeli-Palestinian tensions amid a wave of violence that began in October.
Several hundred of the soldier's supporters protested outside the military base during a previous court hearing on Tuesday.