JERUSALEM (May. 24)
A Jaffa military court imposed stiff sentences Wednesday on five Palestinians suspected of stoning Jewish hikers last year in the West Bank village of Beita, where a teen-age Israeli girl was killed.
But the sentences were reduced in view of confessions and time already spent in custody.
The suspect convicted of the most serious crime got an eight-year sentence, of which he will serve four years. Two others sentenced to five-year terms will serve 21 months, one will serve 18 months and another will serve two years.
Eleven more suspects from Beita are awaiting trial.
The tragedy occurred April 6, 1988, during the Passover week. A group of young hikers from Eilon Moreh, a Jewish settlement in the Samaria district, were allegedly assaulted with stones as they passed near Beita.
Their armed bodyguard, Roman Aldubi, opened fire, killing two Arab youths.
According to the charges, the hikers were forced to run a gauntlet of stones in the village. Aldubi, struck in the head, accidentally fired his weapon, which inflicted a fatal wound on 15-year-old Tirza Porat.