Israeli who burned Palestinian alive ruled sane: lawyer

Jerusalem (AFP) –


A psychiatrist has ruled that an Israeli found to have led the burning alive of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 was responsible for his actions, the lawyer for the victim's family said Tuesday.

The court found that Israeli settler Yosef Haim Ben-David, 31, was the ringleader of the chilling attack, but his lawyers submitted last-minute documents saying he suffered from mental illness.

The court appointed a psychiatrist who "concluded that the principal accused lied about his mental state to avoid judgement," lawyer Mohannad Jbara said.

Israeli media also reported the psychiatrist's assessment. Ben-David's next court hearing is scheduled for March 22.

On February 4, a court sentenced his two young Israeli accomplices to life and 21 years in prison for the killing, which was part of a spiral of violence in the runup to the 2014 Gaza war.

The two were minors at the time of the attack in which they snatched Mohammad Abu Khdeir, 16, from an east Jerusalem street and then killed him.

His murder was seen as revenge for the killing of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, who were abducted from a hitchhiking stop near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli authorities said the suspects had decided to kill an Arab and equipped themselves with cables, petrol and other materials before randomly choosing Abu Khdeir.

Ben-David's case comes with tensions once again high, with a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks since last October.

The violence has claimed the lives of 27 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.

In addition, 176 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.

The last-minute legal manoeuvres on behalf of Ben-David were harshly condemned by Abu Khdeir's family, who expressed doubt they would get justice.