Warning: Graphic content
An Israeli man, who was involved in a brutal killing of an Eritrean immigrant looking for a better life in Israel, has escaped jail time. Instead he will now only have to serve 100 days of community service.
The Beersheba District Court sentenced David Muial, 33, of his involvement in the mob beating and lynching of Haftom Zarhum, at a bus station where he lay bleeding.
On Oct 18, 2015, Zarhum, a 29-year-old Eritrean immigrant, was shot by a security guard just a few minutes after a terror attack at a bus station. The attack left one Israeli soldier dead and 11 people injured.
As the 29-year-old innocent man lay bleeding on the ground, an angry mob descended upon him. The group, comprised of nine people, delivered blows to the already grievously injured man’s head. Then Muial came and slammed a metal bench on Zarhum. Other passersby righted the metal bench but two other men approached and started pummeling him. Then another person came and once again dropped the metal bench on top of the helpless man. In the video, Zarhum can be seen trying to shield his body with his arms, to no avail.
He was later taken to a hospital where he died hours later. Autopsy said the primary cause of his death was the gunshot wounds.
Muial was indicted last year along with three other suspects, Israel Defense Forces soldier Yaakov Shimba, Israel Prisons Service guard Ronen Cohen and civilian Evyatar Dimri.
However, the Israeli man’s legal team said Muial’s actions deserve a lenient punishment since he thought the Eritrean immigrant was a terrorist — despite the fact he had no basis to think that. The lawyers also argued their client feels “sincere regret and deep pain” over the incident.
The State Prosecution at first wanted to convict the four for “causing injury with grave intent” but accepted his claim that he believed Zarhum was a terrorist and dropped the more serious charges as a part of his plea bargain.
As a result, Muial was convicted of “abusing the helpless,” a much lesser charge than that of aggravated assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is now sentenced to 100 days of community service and eight months of probation and has to pay 2,000 shekels (approx. $551) as compensation to the family of the victim.
Zarhum’s family has filed a lawsuit against the state for damages, claiming negligence and failure to follow proper procedure resulted in the young man’s death. They are asking for 3 million shekels ($780,000) in compensation and demanding the National Insurance Agency recognize Zahrum as a victim of terror, which would entitle his family to more benefits from the state.
However, the agency has rejected their appeal saying Zahrum is not a terror victim since he entered Israel from Eritrea illegally.
Haftom Zarhum is just another tragic reminder of the intolerance and racism that is rampant in Israel.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters