Wednesday, July 15, 2009
THE JERUSALEM POST
Jul. 15, 2009
The Beersheba District Court on Wednesday acquitted Shai Dromi of manslaughter, but found him guilty of illegal possession of a firearm. [Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: Israel Radio reported that the "weapons transgressions" was that his gun license had expired.] In January 2007, the Negev farmer shot at a group of people who broke into his farm to steal livestock, killing Khaled el-Atrash and wounding another intruder.
In a much-anticipated verdict by a panel headed by Court President Yehoshua Pilpel, judge Rachel Barkai said, "There is never an easy verdict, and a person lost his life here, but the defendant is not a man of strife. The circumstances were imposed upon Dromi, who merely wanted to live his life and remove the intruder."
Pilpel is resigning as president of the court, and the courtroom was packed with judges who came to hear Pilpel's last ruling, as is customary. Upon hearing the decision, Dromi's friends and families in the courtroom politely applauded.
Earlier on Wednesday, Dromi spoke with Army Radio, stressing that he had neither initiated the lethal encounter with the intruders, nor wanted such an outcome. "The intent was to drive them away... The bottom line is that they broke into my house, not I into theirs," Dromi said.
"This isn't about someone's rage when his house is being broken into. Metaphorically speaking or not, I had been bleeding for quite a while at the time. If there was a gunshot, it was a final, desperate one… I was 'bleeding' since a prolonged assault had left me empty-handed. My entire world was stolen over the years," he continued.
"My relations with the neighboring Beduins were, and remain, good, and even very good. I got a lot of support and encouragement from my Beduin friends. Some people want to drag this affair to one single point, some people want to make it entirely political. But the case is actually about decent conduct among people," said Dromi, using the Hebrew term derech eretz.
After Dromi was charged with manslaughter in 2007, a public uproar broke out. During the following year, bumper-stickers appeared on cars nationwide bearing the phrase 'We are all Shai Dromi,' expressing a lack of faith in the police's ability to stop property crime, particularly in rural areas.
In June 2008, the Knesset approved the 'Shai Dromi Bill,' an amendment to the Penal Law aimed at giving property owners more freedom to use fatal force against people who break into their homes, businesses or farms.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.