JERUSALEM, Sept 16, (Agencies): A Palestinian at the wheel of a car when police fired on it, killing a passenger, was charged with manslaughter Thursday after prosecutors said his erratic driving made officers shoot.
Ali Nimr was driving in east Jerusalem in the early hours of September 5 with his cousin Mustafa Nimr when he tried to evade a police spot check and ignored orders to stop, according to the charge sheet, obtained by AFP. Police said at the time they feared that the driver was trying to run them down in a deliberate attack and they fired at the vehicle, killing Mustafa who was in the passenger seat.
The shooting took place in Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp where police were conducting an unrelated search for weapons. Violence since October has killed 223 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Eritrean and a Sudanese.
Israeli forces say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Police subsequently found that Nimr was not seeking to ram them but they said his wild driving made police suspicious and he was therefore responsible for his cousin’s death. “The accused drove while he was drunk and under the influence of dangerous drugs, with the deceased sitting next to him,” said the charge sheet filed in Jerusalem magistrates court. “The officers at the roadblock signalled repeatedly with their flashlights to the accused to stop and called on him to halt in Hebrew and in Arabic.” It said the police fired two sponge-tipped bullets at the car windscreen but still it did not stop. “The accused broke through the police roadblock at high speed and did not stop,” it said.
It was then, the prosecution said, that the officers felt that their lives were endangered and opened live fire. “As a result of the fire the accused was hit along with the deceased who died at the scene as consequence of a gunshot wound to the head,” the charge sheet said. The justice ministry unit that probes police conduct opened an inquiry, as is routine when civilians are killed. The prosecutors were however adamant that blame for the killing rested with Ali Nimr.
“The recklessness and negligence of the accused … caused the death of a person,” they wrote. Meanwhile, Israeli police say a man from an Arab village in the north of the country has been indicted for fatally shooting his mother in a case of so-called “honor killing.” Spokeswoman Luba Samri says the 23-year-old man, a member of Israel’s Arab minority, shot his 46-year-old mother six times at close range in July.