Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

6 Nissan 5759 - March 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Youngster Accused of Destroying the Missionary Apartment is Released from Prison

by Betzalel Kahn

One of those accused in the incident of the missionary apartment in Meah Shearim was released from prison this past Monday after completing two-thirds of his sentence. He was released in the wake of the recommendation of a special committee established by the commissioner of the Prison Services, Amos Azani, thanks to the efforts of the heads of the ZAKA organization in Jerusalem.

The youngster is the second culprit sentenced to prison in the affair. He was accused of "robbery, the malicious causing of damage, breaking into an apartment, and stealing property and books." The judge, Ayala Procacia, sentenced him to six active months in prison and a 12 month suspended sentence.

In the verdict, Justice Procacia made very sharp remarks against the entire chareidi community, while ignoring the character references and the clean past of the youth, as well as his claim that he wasn't involved in the affair.

Even though the youth was only charged with robbery, and wasn't found responsible for the other serious deeds committed that night in the apartment of the missionaries, the judge noted that, "His behavior is tinged by the stain of rioting, which is identified with the character of the entire incident, and which imputes it special severity."

Justice Procacia sentenced the minor to six months in prison, even though his lawyer asked that the sentence be six months and one day which legally entitles a prisoner to be released at the end of two-thirds of his prison sentence. However the judge refused the request and sentenced him to six months in prison, which began four months ago.

Nonetheless he was released at the end of the four month period at the decision of a special committee appointed by the Commissioner of the Prison Services, Amos Azani after the heads of the Jerusalem division of ZAKA met with him.

I spoke with him less than 24 hours after he came out. "I must say that with regard to the facts in the case, they did judge me correctly. On the other hand, for what I did and admitted to, I spent too much time in jail. For a chareidi boy to spend a half year in jail . . . is very hard. I did not come out the same person that I went in.

"R' Aharon Kornblit is sitting for nothing, and I can say that with full responsibility. . . . This is the fault of the police who know that he did nothing and accuse him anyway."

On Sunday, an additional deliberation was held in respect to R' Aharon Kornblit, a father of six who is also accused of having participated in the burning of the missionary apartment, and who is being detained in the prison in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem until the end of the judicial proceedings in his case. Yehoshua Weiss, who is also accused of involvement in the affair, was brought to testify.

In court, Weiss restated his previous claim that his testimony regarding Kornblit's role in the arson was coerced from him with force, after police investigators exerted physical and emotional pressures on him to testify that Kornblit was one of the "organizers of the pogrom." On Sunday, Weiss claimed in the regional court that under pressure he had said what the police wanted to hear, and that he totally retracts this testimony.

The court wasn't impressed by his statements, and the deliberation was postponed to a later date. As a result, Kornblit may continue to spend the next few weeks, including leil haseder, in his prison cell in the Russian Compound.

Hopefully, extensive public efforts to free Aharon Kornblit from prison, at least for first day of Pesach, will soon take place. The police generally do not release prisoners detained until the end of their trials. However, Yehoshua Weiss has already begun to receive furloughs because he is considered a convict.

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