Judge in Trial of Cop Who Killed Ethiopian Israeli Teen Asked to Explain ‘Unusual’ Statement

'Violence, demonstrations and the media don’t influence the court,' says judge as trial of policeman charged with negligent homicide begins

Haifa Magistrate’s Court Judge Zaid presiding over the trial of cop who shot dead 18-year-old Solomon Teka, February 16, 2020.
Rami Shllush

The judge in the case of the policeman who shot dead an Ethiopian-Israeli teen has been ordered by the Supreme Court president to explain his statement to the press at the start of the trial.

The Courts Administration termed the judge’s statement an “unusual event,” adding that he didn’t receive prior approval for it.

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The policeman has been charged with negligent homicide for killing 18-year-old Solomon Teka. At the start of his trial on Sunday, Haifa Magistrate’s Court Judge Zaid Falah said that “violence, demonstrations and the media don’t influence the court.”

“The defendant’s acquittal wouldn’t cast aspersions on the deceased or his community, and his conviction wouldn’t cast aspersions on the police,” Falah added. He then turned to Teka’s family and said, “I know this is hard for you, but the trial will be conducted in an orderly fashion.”

He will offer his explanation to Haifa Magistrate’s Court President Einas Salameh.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut is also demanding explanations from Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Sharon Lary-Bavly, over a remark she made during a bail hearing for Rabbi Eliezer Berland. After Berland’s attorney, Amit Hadad, said his client’s health was “very fragile,” the judge replied, “Give him Mentos.”

Berland, the head of the Shuvu Banim Yeshiva, is suspected of exploiting his followers by demanding money from sick people in exchange for false promises of healing and giving them Mentos mints instead of medicine.

After her Mentos comment, Lary-Bavly added, “We understand that his condition isn’t that of a 17-year-old spring chicken.”

She will offer her explanation to the director of the Courts Administration, Yigal Mersel, and the president of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Avital Chen.