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House arrest, instead of jail, for Israeli involved in killing Palestinians

By AFP - Jul 16,2018 - Last updated at Jul 16,2018

Palestinian women look at the damage at the West Bank home of the Dawabsheh family on August 4, 2015, after it was firebombed by two Israelis, killing a Palestinian toddler and his parents (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel's supreme court on Sunday rejected an appeal against house arrest for an Israeli suspect in a 2015 firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents, his lawyers said.

On Thursday, an Israeli district court ordered the suspect, a minor at the time of the arson, released from prison to house arrest after throwing out parts of his confession.

His release was delayed until Sunday to allow prosecutors to appeal, but a statement from right-wing legal aid organisation Honenu, which is representing the suspect, said the appeal had been rejected.

The ruling was the latest sign that the prosecution's case against the suspect, who was 17 at the time of the firebombing, may be faltering.

The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, is accused of being an accessory to racially motivated murder and is being tried as a minor.

He and the main suspect, Amiram Ben Uliel, were charged in January 2016. 

Ben Uliel was charged — when he was 21 — with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, arson and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Last month, the district court threw out parts of the confessions of both the minor and Ben Uliel, who is from the illegal northern West Bank settlement of Shilo.

The court ruled that the confessions it had thrown out were obtained through physical coercion that defence lawyers describe as torture.

Other confessions made by both of them however remain part of the case.

Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burnt to death when the family home in the village of Duma in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was firebombed.

His parents later died of their injuries. His brother Ahmed, four at the time of the attack, was the sole survivor from the immediate family but was left with severe burns.

Israeli occupation forces came under heavy pressure to catch and try those responsible.

Court documents made publicly available have not elaborated on the techniques used by investigators when obtaining their confessions.

Israeli daily Haaretz said they would typically have included “painful physical means such as binding hands and feet... or prolonged uncomfortable kneeling”.

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