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2 Israelis convicted of Abu Khdeir murder

But the trial against the main suspect, alleged to be the ringleader, has been put on hold pending a psychiatric review
Teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped, beaten and killed in a suspected revenge attack (AFP)

Two Israelis have been convicted of murdering 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem last year, although the trial against the main suspect has been put on hold, Israeli media reported on Monday.

According to Haaretz newspaper, the case against Yosef Haim Ben-David, has been suspended on psychiatric grounds, with a fresh evaluation claiming that he was not responsible for his actions at the time of the murder, currently being translated from English to Hebrew.

However, the court said that there was sufficient evidence to convict Ben-David, 31, of kidnapping, beating and then burning Abu Khdeir alive in July 2014.

The two Israelis convicted today are minors and have had their identities withheld from the media for their protected. Both have named Ben-David as the ringleader accusing him of feeding them pills and energy drinks ahead of the killing. One has also claimed that he did not leave the car at the time of the murder, although the court ruled that both were guilty of deeds of their own volition.

Police picked up all the three defendants several days after the killing, with all three admitting to taking part in Abu Khdeir’s kidnapping and also re-enacting the murder for police.

The brutality of the killing went on to spark protests across the Palestinian territories and is seen as a key cause of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza in which more than 2,200 mainly Palestinians civilians were killed. More than 70 people, mainly soldiers, were also killed on the Israeli side.

Abu Khdeir’s murder came days after three Israeli settler teens were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank, with prosecutors alleging that the three defendants were all attracted to the notion of a revenge killing.

"The picture arising from the evidence is that Defendant B. was excited by the revenge action and insisted that he and his co-defendants carry it out as planned," the prosecutor said.

Abu Khdeir's parents, who live in the Shuafat neighbourhood of East Jerusalem where their son was abducted, have attended every court session and have repeatedly criticised the lengthy proceedings. 

The father, Hussein Abu Khdeir, told Maan News Agency that he will "not accept less than a lifetime prison sentence" for the convicted as well as the court to demolish their homes.

“I don’t believe in the Israeli judiciary, and I want to see if they will be fair or not," he said. "We will go to the International Criminal Court if the Israeli court mitigates their sentence."

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