Jerusalem Arab Given Three Life Sentences for Deadly Bus Attack
Bilal Abu Ghanem, 21, was one of two terrorists who, armed with guns and knives, killed three Israelis and wounded seven others on a bus in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood last October. His accomplice was killed on scene.
The Jerusalem District Court convicted Bilal Abu Ghanem of three counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, as well aiding the enemy in war, on Monday.
Abu Ghanem, 21, of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber, was one of two terrorists who carried the attack that killed three Israelis on a Jerusalem bus in October last year in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv. Alon Govberg, Richard Lakin and Haim Haviv were killed and seven others were wounded in a combined shooting and stabbing attack.
The other attacker, Bahaa Elayan, also from Jabal Mukkaber, was killed by police during the attack. Elayan's body has still not been returned to the family for burial by the police. His house was demolished in early January.
Three months ago, a proposed plea bargain deal fell apart after Abu Ghanem refused to stand for the judge in the courtroom, plead guilty to the indictment and accept the plea bargain agreement. Judge Yoram Noam refused to grant the request from Abu Ghanem's lawyers to accept his statements while he remained sitting. The plea bargain deal set a sentence of three consecutive life sentences.
Prosecutors asked to sentence Abu Ghanem to three consecutive life sentences for the murders plus another 70 years for the conspiracy and attempted murder crimes. Prosecutor Uri Korb told the court that it was possible to sentence Abu Ghanem to death for the crimes, but the prosecution in Israel does not customarily ask for such a sentence. "If it was customary, this is the case which would have had a position of honor among those cases in which we would have requested [the death penalty]," he said.
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