JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem court Monday found two Jewish teenagers guilty of murder and delayed its decision on a third defendant in the grisly slaying of a Palestinian teenager.

Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was abducted in the early hours of July 2, 2014, while heading to the mosque for morning prayers in Shuafat, his village. The family alerted police after witnesses saw him being taken. Several hours later, his charred body was found in a wooded area west of Jerusalem. He had been beaten and burned alive.

The three Jewish suspects were arrested several days later. Prosecutors said they confessed to involvement in the teenager’s death to avenge the slaying of three Jewish teenagers who were abducted in the West Bank by Palestinians two weeks earlier.

In keeping with Israeli law, the two 18-year-olds convicted were not named because the crime took place and the trial began when they were minors. The court is expected to finalize their convictions in the near future after a procedural review required in the case of minors.

The court ruling held that all three of the accused committed the abduction, beating and murder of Abu Khdeir. However, the verdict in the case of Yossef Haim Ben-David, 31, described in court as the main instigator of the crime, was delayed after the defense submitted a last-minute psychiatric opinion arguing he was not fit to stand trial.


Ben-David had been declared fit to stand trial by a government-appointed district psychiatrist. Despite documented treatment for a psychiatric condition, the suspect led a functional personal and professional life and understood his actions well, the psychiatrist said.

Despite obvious displeasure with Ben-David’s counsel over the last-minute submission after the ruling had been written, the court said it would review the English document upon translation and pick up Ben-David’s case in three weeks.

Entering court before the ruling, Hussein Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s father, expressed concern to reporters that the judges might clear the suspects. “They could say they’re crazy,” he said.

As legal experts labored to explain judiciary nuances, the father later slammed the ruling that seemed to echo his earlier concerns. “After a year and a half of trial, they now say he’s crazy,” he told the media.

“It’s all a lie. Like your (book of) Kohelet says, ‘Vanities of vanities, all is vanity,'” he said, quoting from Ecclesiastes.

Prosecutor Uri Korv expressed hope that the court would reject the last-minute insanity plea. He said there was no dispute about Ben-David’s condition, but he emphasized that it was “not such that detracts from his criminal responsibility” and fitness for trial.

Korv was otherwise satisfied that the court determined unequivocally that all three committed “the barbaric and abhorrent crime of kidnapping an innocent person and burning him alive.”