Palestinian shot in foot while handcuffed appeals to supreme court

Israel Materials 19 August 2008 14:46 (UTC +04:00)

A Palestinian who was shot in the foot from close range during a protest in the West Bank last month, petitioned Israel's highest court Tuesday to demand the Israeli soldier who fired and his commander be charged with aggravated abuse, dpa reported.

The Palestinian, Ashraf Abu Rahmeh, 27, participated in a July 7 demonstration in the West Bank village of Nil'in, north-west of Jerusalem, against construction in the area of Israel's controversial security barrier.

He was arrested when the demonstration turned violent and protesters threw stones at Israeli security forces guarding the barrier and construction work.

An Israeli soldier fired a rubber-coated metal bullet at Abu Rahmeh's foot from a distance of some 1.5 metres, as the protester was under arrest, handcuffed, blind-folded and held by the arm by the soldier's commander.

The incident was filmed by a 14-year-old Palestinian girl from the village and the footage, published by the Israeli B'Tselem human rights group, sparked shock and outrage in both the Palestinian areas and Israel.

The soldier and his commander were formally charged with "improper conduct" at an Israeli military court earlier this month.

The commander, a lieutenant colonel given, was removed from his position and will be barred from serving in military command positions in the future, while the soldier was also demoted.

But Abu Rahmeh and four Israeli human rights groups filed a petition to Jerusalem's Highest Court of Justice Monday, demanding a more severe indictment be filed against both, Israel Radio reported.

The petitioners demand the two be charged with "abuse of a detainee under aggravated circumstances," punishable by up to seven years in prison, the radio said.

Law enforcement officials in the Israeli military showed "extreme unreasonableness" when they decided to charge the soldier and his commander with "improper conduct," a minor offence which does not result in a criminal record, they complained.

The four human rights groups which filed the petition are B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Yesh Din and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI).