January 4, 2017 / 6:31 PM / 8 months ago

Netanyahu says soldier convicted of manslaughter should be pardoned

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military, sits to hear his verdict in a military court in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017.Heidi Levine/Pool

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday he supported pardoning a young Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a Palestinian assailant lying wounded and motionless on the ground in the occupied West Bank.

The decision to court-martial Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot the Palestinian after the assailant stabbed another Israeli soldier last March has stirred public controversy in Israel from the start, with right-wing politicians calling after the verdict on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon the 20-year-old defendant.

"This is a difficult and painful day - first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel's soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me ... I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria," Netanyahu said on his Facebook page.

Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams

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