‘If he had an explosive belt I could be dead right now’

A military court has heard testimony for the first time from the soldier who shot dead a wounded terrorist in Hevron, sparking an ongoing controversy and triggering a manslaughter suit against him.

Defense Attorney Eyal Baserglick presented the testimony on behalf of the soldier, who remains under arrest on base pending the verdict.

In his statement the soldier, whose identity is the subject of a gag-order, reiterated his claim that he only shot the terrorist because he feared he had a bomb concealed under his coat.

Prosecutors claim, however, that the terrorist posed no threat – having been shot and severely wounded after stabbing another soldier – and that the accused merely shot him to "confirm the kill" against army regulations.

Not so, the soldier insisted.

"I wouldn't just shoot at him (for no reason) – only if I felt a real threat," the soldier said. "I saw him moving his hand and his head – I didn't just fire."

In footage from the event released – and heavily edited – by the far-left NGO B'Tselem, the terrorist can indeed be seen moving before the soldier cocks his weapon and fires, striking him in the head and killing him.

He further noted on the difficult emotional and psychological conditions under which soldiers operate, and urged the court to take that into consideration.

"My hands were covered with the blood of my wounded comrade, I was upset. In that split second, I decided to shoot.

"You CID investigators are here in an office, not in the field – there, they can shoot at you or throw a firebomb at you."

"If he had an explosive belt I would be in a grave – not a court," the soldier emphasized, explaining that was the reason he fired at the terrorist's head. "If I would have fired at his hand or his body the explosive belt could have been activated."

"His coat seemed inflated, as if he had something underneath it," he added, explaining why his suspicions had seemed so real at the time.

In the coming hours, the military court will decide whether to accept the prosecution's petition to return the soldier to full arrest in a military prison, as opposed to remaining effectively under a form of house arrest at his base.

Earlier Tuesday, prosecutor's had insisted the soldier's testimony was unreliable, and urged the judge not to believe his claims.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/210359

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