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Israeli Prosecutors Demand Life for Ringleader in Burning Alive of Palestinian

Israeli prosecutors on Tuesday demanded a life sentence for a Jewish man found to be the ringleader of a group that beat and burned alive a Palestinian teenager in 2014.

State prosecutor Uri Korb demanded Israeli settler Yosef Haim Ben-David be given life for the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, as well as 20 years for his kidnapping and an additional 15 years for other crimes -- including the attempted kidnapping of a child.

"This is an evil and cruel man who does not represent our civilized society," Korb said at a hearing where Ben-David was due to be sentenced later on Tuesday.

Korb said he had "brought shame upon our society and offended our values".

He also called on Ben-David to pay 228,000 shekels ($60,000/52,000 euros) to Abu Khdeir's family.

Ben-David, wearing a burgundy yarmulke and a black shirt, told the court he was "sorry".

"I am sorry for the family. This is not me. I wasn't in control," he said.

Abu Khdeir was 16 when he was kidnapped from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on July 2, 2014 and beaten, with his burned body found hours later in a forest in the western part of the city.

A forensic report showed smoke in his lungs, indicating he had been alive when set alight.

Abu Khdeir's father, speaking ahead of the expected verdict, said no punishment would be enough.

"Whatever they decide, our wounds will not heal -- the boy will not come back," he told AFP.

The murder shocked Israelis and Palestinians alike, and helped contribute to the escalation in violence that culminated in the 50-day Gaza war that summer.

Israeli authorities said the suspects had decided to kill an Arab and equipped themselves with cables, petrol and other materials before randomly choosing Abu Khdeir.

His murder was seen as revenge for the killing of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, who were abducted from a hitchhiking stop near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

Ben-David, 31, was found in November to have led the assault, but his lawyers submitted last-minute documents saying he suffered from mental illness.

A court rejected the appeal last month, finding him sane.

In February, a court sentenced Ben-David's two young Israeli accomplices to life and 21 years in prison for the killing.

Tuesday's court hearing came with tensions once again high.

Police said Tuesday they had arrested a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem's Old City suspected of stabbing a Jewish man there late on Monday.

The victim, described by police as "a Jewish male, aged about 60", was said by Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek hospital to be in stable condition after treatment for a damaged lung.

Since October 1, 203 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed in an ongoing wave of violence.

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.

Source: Agence France Presse


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