Israel aims to charge officer who killed austistic Palestinian

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel's justice ministry said Wednesday it will seek to file "reckless homicide" charges against a police officer who shot dead a Palestinian man with autism in Jerusalem's Old City.

Iyad Hallak, 32, was shot and killed on May 30 while walking to his special needs school in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, after officers mistakenly thought he was armed.

Hallak was killed near Lions' Gate in the alleys of the walled Old City, where he had attended school for six years.

The justice ministry said the officer who shot Hallak failed to apply standard police rules on firing a weapon and "did not resort to more proportionate alternatives".

"The deceased posed no danger to police or civilians at the scene," the ministry said in a statement.

The charges against Hallak must be confirmed at a hearing before the case goes for trial. The unnamed officer could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Hallak's family lawyer said the ministry did not go far enough.

"The decision is important, but not enough. Iyad did not pose any danger to be targeted and killed in this ugly way," said Khalid Zabarkah.

According to the justice ministry, police at the scene believed Hallak was a terrorist because of his "suspicious" behaviour.

When ordered to stop by police, Hallak reportedly ran, triggering a chase.

Hallak's family has said he had the mental age of an eight-year-old and witnesses reported that Hallak had panicked after being shouted at by police.

Thousands of mourners attended Hallak's funeral, while online the hashtag #PalestinianLivesMatter echoed the fury of mass protests against police violence and racism in the United States.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Hallak's death "a tragedy," mourned by "the entire Israeli public, as well as the entire Israeli government".

The commanding officer at the scene who was questioned in the case will not face charges, the justice ministry said.