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Israel court rejects civil suit over US activist death

August 28, 2012
HAIFA, (Israel): An Israeli court today rejected all claims of negligence in a civil lawsuit brought by the family of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer during a protest in 2003.

“I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver,” said Judge Oded Gershon, reading out his verdict at Haifa District Court in northern Israel.

The judge said he found no case for negligence on the part of the Israeli army, and that the military police investigation – which found she had been killed by falling earth as a result of her own irresponsible behaviour – had been properly conducted.

He said her death was the result of an accident and rejected claims that key video tape evidence had been destroyed.

The 23-year-old was killed in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in March 2003 as she was with a group of pro-Palestinian activists acting as human shields to prevent a house demolition.

Exactly seven years after her death, her family launched a civil suit against the state of Israel and the defence ministry for the symbolic sum of US$1, plus costs.

Standing outside the court, the Corries’ lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein told reporters that the family would appeal the verdict.

“The verdict is based upon distorted facts and could have been written by the state’s attorney,” he said after a legal battle of nearly 30 months. “We are going to appeal.”

Standing behind him, Craig Corrie was stony faced, while his wife Cindy looked heart-broken and close to tears, at one point resting her head upon his shoulder, an AFP correspondent said.

The family, who travelled from the United States to attend the hearing, followed the proceedings with the help of an interpreter.

They were accompanied by around 50 friends and wellwishers.

An Israeli military investigation into the incident was closed several months after her death without any disciplinary action, saying the bulldozer crew could not see Corrie because she was behind a mound of rubble.

But activists who were with her at the time said she was clearly visible to the driver of the military bulldozer.

At the time, the military said Corrie had died after being struck by building materials and not by the bulldozer.

“The death of Ms. Corrie was not caused as a result of a direct action by the bulldozer or by its running her over, but by the falling of earth and building materials that was pushed by the bulldozer,” it said at the time.

The army went on to accuse Corrie and other activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) of “illegal and irresponsible behaviour” contributing to her death.

Corrie was killed at the height of the second intifada, or uprising (2000-2005) and quickly became an symbol of foreign support for the Palestinian cause and the subject of a 2005 play based on her emails and diary.



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