Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5761 - November 15, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











High Court convicts Korman of killing Palestinian Boy
by M. Plaut

On Sunday the Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision of about a year ago and convicted Nachum Korman of manslaughter in the death of 11-year-old Palestinian boy Hilmi Shousha in 1996. At the time the incident was publicized as a case of Jewish brutality towards Arab children.

Korman, then security officer of the Hadar Betar settlement near Jerusalem, had entered the Arab village of Husan to stop youths stoning Israeli cars on the road below. He left his Jeep and ran, gun in hand, after Shousha, who apparently was on his way home from school.

According to the prosecution, Korman beat and kicked the child, knocked him down, put his foot on his neck and struck him with the butt of his pistol.

Korman contended, however, that when he approached the boy and asked him why he had thrown stones, Shousha responded "No, no" and fell onto the ground in a faint. Korman claims he tried to revive the child and then carried him toward his Jeep. There was no one else around until they reached the vehicle, when three women came out from nearby homes. One hit Korman with a stick while he tried to resuscitate Shousha. When he realized that his efforts were in vain, Korman drove with the boy and two villagers, one hand on the wheel and the other helping one of the villagers try to revive Shousha. At Beitar Junction he handed the boy over to medics whom he had alerted.

The prosecution's case relied heavily on the testimony of the boy's two brothers and another villager who said that they saw Korman beating the boy as well as the government pathologist.

The chief government pathologist, Dr. Yehuda Hiss, director of the Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir, wrote in his first report that the injuries could have been caused without any contact between the victim and the accused. The injuries that he described were not consistent with the beatings that the witnesses said they saw. In a later report, he wrote that the injuries were caused by blows.

In her opinion acquitting Korman, the judge Orr said that Professor Hiss had been influenced by the brothers' false testimony and was no longer objective. She said there was no proof that Korman ever touched Shousha. She said that it was for the court to determine whether to believe the witnesses, and not for the pathologist.

The panel of three High Court justices, including Dalia Dorner, Dorit Beinisch and Ayala Procaccia, found that Korman had killed the boy and sent the case back to Jerusalem District Court for sentencing. The charge of manslaughter carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The High Court ruled that the first autopsy by Chief Coroner Yehuda Hiss and additional evidence related to the case proved that Hilmi Shousha had died of a tear in the spinal artery which was caused by a blow and that the blow had been administered by Korman.

Dorner, Beinisch, and Procaccia did not contradict Jerusalem District Court Judge Orr's decision to ignore the testimony of the Shousha cousins and Hiss's final autopsy. However, they determined that Hiss's preliminary report and additional circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict Korman. They said that in order to suffer a tear of the artery, Shousha would have had to have fallen backwards, struck a hard object and sharply twisted his neck. But when questioned by police on the day of the incident, Korman said Shousha had fainted but did not say he had fallen backwards or hit his head on a sharp object. It was only in court, after the pathologists had found that Shousha had indeed been struck, that Korman claimed for the first time that Shousha had fallen backwards and suffered a blow to his head.

Furthermore, this version of events could not explain other internal wounds that appeared on either side of the tear. The defense claimed they were sustained afterwards, when Shousha was evacuated and driven to hospital.

Professor Hiss gave important evidence that is controversial in several other incidents. The report that he filed about the slain Yitzhak Rabin that there was no frontal wound contradicts the reports of the surgeon who first treated the prime minister and other doctors on the scene who said that there was a frontal wound.

Last year an anonymous colleague at Abu Kabir said that Professor Hiss is very loyal to the establishment "and expends great efforts to interpret the facts in accordance with the establishment's position."

Korman's brother said that it seemed to him that at the first hearing the justices had not even read the case summary of the district judge, but seemed to have already made up their minds about the disposition of the case.


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