US State Dept, DoJ officials to attend Palmer trial (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 05/31/12)
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Representatives from the US Department of Justice and State
Department are expected to attend a hearing in the Ofer Military
Court on Sunday in the ongoing trial of two Palestinian men charged
with deliberately killing an American citizen and his baby son last
Asher Palmer, aged 24, and his infant son Yonatan were killed when
their car overturned as they drove on Route 60 near Kiryat Arba. The
father and son were driving to meet Asher´s pregnant wife in
A police investigation revealed that the father and son were murdered
as the result of rock-throwing and not a car accident as the IDF
Two Palestinian men - Ali Saadeh and Wa´al al-Arjeh, both from
Halhoul near Hebron - were charged in the Ofer Military Court with
intentionally causing the deaths of Asher and Yonatan, equivalent to
a murder charge under civilian law. The offense is punishable by life
A representative of the Palmer family said monitors from the US State
Department were present at the last hearing in the case on April 18,
after which the US Department of Justice told the Palmers it would
also monitor the trial.
Attorney Adrian Agassi, a former military court judge who is
representing the Palmer family, told The Jerusalem Post that the US
does not usually monitor overseas trials.
Public interest around the trial and the fact that the military court
stopped the US consul from attending one of the early hearings,
perhaps prompted the US authorities to attend the Palmer trial, he
The charges against the two defendants, Arjeh and Saadeh, include
deliberately stoning cars in order to cause death.
Significantly, the prosecution allege that the two men developed a
novel method to use stones as lethal missiles by hurling them from a
The prosecution allege that Arjeh and Saadeh were both in a fast-
moving car when one of them threw a stone at the car Asher was
driving, deliberately intending to cause the deaths of the car´s
"Rocks thrown from a moving car have a far greater velocity than if
they were thrown by someone standing at the side of the road," Agassi
The indictment against Arjeh and Saadeh alleges that the two men used
the stone-throwing method in other attacks.
Arjeh is charged with 30 offenses, including another attempted murder
in which the Palestinian man allegedly threw rocks at a bus in order
to cause the deaths of passengers.
Saadeh was also indicted on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy
to murder and illegal military training. The indictment lists a total
of 23 charges against him, all related to attacks and security
offenses in the area, and including an attempt to fire an M-16 rifle
at a passenger bus on Route 60.
The military court will set a legal precedent if it finds the two
Palestinians guilty of deliberately causing the deaths of Asher and
Yonatan, Agassi said, because it will be the first time stone-
throwing was used to deliberately kill someone.
Four other Palestinian men are standing trial alongside Arjeh and
Saadeh on charges of being co-conspirators in the attack and carrying
out similar rock-throwing attacks on Road 60.
All six men are from the same village and are allegedly part of a
gang who used the rock throwing from a fast-moving car method to
carry out terror attacks, according to Agassi.
Agassi added that because of the significance of the case, the Palmer
family are determined to see that the prosecution continue to push to
prove that Saadeh and Arjeh intentionally caused Asher´s and
Yonatan´s deaths, which will see both defendants sentenced to life in
"We don´t want the prosecution to give in and agree to a plea bargain
with 20 year sentences instead of life," he said.
So far, the court has not heard the defense arguments but lawyers for
the two Palestinian men are expected to argue that they did not
intend to kill Asher and Yonatan when they threw the stone.
Another Palestinian man, Shehada Awad Shehada Shatat was convicted in
March of stealing Asher´s gun after the deadly attack and sentenced
to ten months in prison - which the Palmer family slammed as far too
Shatat was apparently not connected to the stone throwers but was
driving on Road 60 when he saw Asher´s car overturn and crash. He
stole Asher´s gun, but did not call for an ambulance or attempt to
help Asher and Yonatan.
Michael Palmer, Asher´s father, said after Shatat´s sentencing that
the Military Advocate General had not told him that the hearing was
to take place, and so he could not attend and speak to the court
before the sentencing.
In a precedent-setting development, the prosecution appealed the move
and have been granted permission for Michael Palmer to present a
victim´s affidavit to to the court. The appeal hearing is scheduled
for Tuesday in the Ofer Military Court of Appeals. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/31/12)
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