Man who shot bound Palestinian to be freed earlyBy Nina Pinto Ha'aretz Police Correspondent
Yoram Skolnik, a West Bank settler who seven years ago was sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting to death a Palestinian whose hands were bound, will be freed on April 7, the parole board of the Prisons Service decided yesterday over the objections of the State Prosecutor's Office.
A representative of the Attorney General's Office who took part in the parole board's meeting said Skolnik was liable to repeat his actions, as he had not internalized the consequences of his act.
The board members, however, said they were favorably impressed by Skolnik's contrition and by his good behavior in prison. The panel's chair, retired judge Eli Sharon, stated that one-third of Skolnik's prison term of 11 years - following a commutation of the original sentence to 15 years by President Ezer Weizman in 1997 and a further commutation to 11 years by Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi in 1999 - would be reduced, leaving him with a term of seven years, which he has already served.
The incident in question occurred in 1993, when two settlers from the Susiya settlement south of Hebron detained a Palestinian, Mussa Abu Sabah, whom they thought was behaving suspiciously. While he was being driven to the security forces, he pulled a knife and stabbed one of the settlers in the shoulder.
The two overpowered him and tied him up. In a search of his person, they found a fragmentation grenade.
Skolnik, who was driving students to school, heard about the incident over his radio phone. He drove to the site armed with an Uzi submachine gun and a pistol. When he saw the Palestinian face-down on the ground, his hands tied behind him, he fired the Uzi.
"He deserves it. They have to be killed," he said as he was disarmed by others at the scene. He told his interrogators: "I wanted to arouse the nation."
Skolnik was convicted of murder. He appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that he saw the Palestinian make a sudden move and thought he had a grenade and should have been exonerated on the grounds of a "mistaken fact."
The court, however, upheld the original sentence, noting that there was no possibility of a mistake because the man was lying motionless on the ground with his hands tied, and because Skolnik had not previously claimed that he was trying to save anyone. Skolnik's claim of severe mental stress was also rejected.