Accuser of 'Confirmed Kill' IDF Captain: We Lied
Captain "R." is on his way to aquittal following a major breakthrough in the trial of the IDF commander accused of intentionally killing an Arab girl.
The prosecution's key witness admitted Sunday to having lied during the investigation.
Two soldiers in R.'s unit had testified that he carried out a point-blank "confirmed-kill" of 13-year-old Arab girl Iman al Hams, who had entered a closed military zone adjacent to the Girit IDF position last October. R. testified that though he and his soldiers had opened fire on someone they assumed to be a terrorist based on intelligence information and the fact that the girl threw a bag toward them - he denied confirming the kill at close range.
Three weeks ago, one of the accusing soldiers admitted that he had not actually seen the shooting, contradicting previous testimony he had given. Now, Lieutenant S., who had been on lookout duty during the incident and subsequently accused R. of shooting the girl at close range admitted during his cross-examination by defense attorney Elad Eisenberg, that he and his fellow soldiers had been lying all along.
Eisenberg asked S. whether it was accurate that following R.'s suspension, S. had bragged to his fellow soldiers, saying, "We managed to get rid of the company commander."
S. answered: "Not exactly. I said it humorously. Most of the soldiers in the company didn't care about the girl who was killed. Many people did it in order ... to get rid of the company commander."
Eisenberg said: "Did what?"
S. answered: "Lied during the investigations."
Eisenberg then accused S. of lying to investigators when he told them that he saw R. confirm the kill by firing two individual bullets, followed by a burst of fire toward the girl.
Repeating the question of whether or not he told the truth, S. said his words were not "intentionally," false, then argued that they were not meant "maliciously" and finally admitted: "I didn't exactly lie ... I said an untruth."
Following the development, the defense requested that the prosecution withdraw the indictment altogether, but the request has been declined so far.
The judge, Lt.-Col. Aharon Mishnayot ordered R., who has been confined to his army base - released, that his weapons be returned to him, and that he be reinstated into the Givati Brigade. "It is an inarguable fact that the dramatic development with regard to the testimony of Lieutenant S., who admitted flat-out that he did not tell the truth during the military police investigation, significantly undermines at least the value of this witness's testimony," Mishnayot said.
R. was in good spirits upon his release. "I have missed my job and my unit, and am happy that in the end justice is being brought to light - what you saw today speaks for itself." R.
Though the story was reported widely in the world press, including headlines such as "IDF Captain Shoots 13-year-old 20 Times," the fact that the facts of the case have been increasingly challenged has been virtually ignored. Already in October, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon told the cabinet that the girl had been dispatched by terrorists as a decoy in order to draw out soldiers and turn them into targets for terrorist snipers. Yaalon also explained that the girl was in a closed military area. In addition, the girl reportedly threw a bag at the soldiers - a suspicious move, under the circumstances, even though the bag was later found to contain only schoolbooks and no explosives.
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