New charges for Israeli troops

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The Independent Online

The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the army must file more serious charges against soldiers filmed abusing a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner last year.

The accused, an unnamed sergeant and his commanding officer, Lt Colonel Omri Borberg, were indicted on the relatively minor count of unbecoming conduct after the incident. They have not yet been tried.

The video released last year by Israeli rights group B'Tselem showed a soldier firing a rubber bullet toward the foot of a Palestinian held at a West Bank checkpoint. The sergeant said he was ordered to shoot; his commanding officer insisted he had not given such an order and that his intention was only to frighten the prisoner, whose toe was bruised by the bullet.

B'Tselem and other groups complained to the Supreme Court that the army was too lenient in its prosecution of the men. Michael Sfard, a lawyer for the rights groups, said the court's ruling yesterday did not state what charges the army must now bring.

"They don't have to indict him now on the most serious offence possible but they must change the indictment so that the most lenient charge is replaced with something more severe," he said. Mr Sfard said illegal use of a weapon or an assault charge were possible charges.

The army said that it respected the ruling.