Court convicts hit and run driver
Dan Izenberg , THE JERUSALEM POST
Itamar Biton, who deliberately ran over a parking lot attendant at the capital's Shuk Canion, dumped her on the street and drove off, will be registered as a criminal for his actions on January 1, 2006, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
In a unanimous decision, a panel of three justices headed by Edmond Levy rejected the ruling of Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori, who had decided not to formally convict Biton to keep his record clean so that he could vie for a post as a dayan (religious court judge).
Biton, the son of Hadera Chief Rabbi Simon Biton, refused to speak to reporters after the verdict was handed down. However, his brother Boaz said the court's decision had nothing to do with the defendant. "The court dealt a blow to Moshe Drori and removed his name from the list of candidates for the Supreme Court," he said.
"The court crucified Drori today."
Boaz Biton added that the media had influenced the court's decision because of the allegedly biased way it covered the incident.
"Justice Dorit Beinisch was right when she said three weeks ago that the justices receive their information from the media. For the past month, the media has committed character assassination, it showed what it wanted to, showed those parts of the film of the events at the parking lot that it wanted to show and it turns out that [Beinisch] was right."
The legal question at issue in the hearing was whether or not Drori's decision not to convict Biton in order to spare him a criminal record was proportional to the crime he committed and that his chances of rehabilitation would be better this way.
The justices replied in the negative to both questions.
"In weighing the factors pertaining to the substance of his actions and the aggravated circumstance for which he must be held to account, versus the personal factors in his favor, I believe that the balance lies in favor of a conviction," wrote Levy. "The most serious factor against him was the license he gave himself to ignore the rules that apply when leaving a parking lot, his decision not to pay the parking fee, and worst of all, the license he gave himself to ignore the rules of behavior among human beings.
"It was not a spur-of-the-moment act, but a well thought out decision which the defendant tried to carry out over several minutes and in various ways. And even when all his efforts failed, he remained determined so that when there was only one obstacle left, a human one, he decided to harm the woman and get her out of the way."
Levy also wrote that even after Drori suspended Biton's driving license for four years, he was soon caught driving again. Biton also recently signed a plea bargain in a separate case, in which he admitted that he had tried to steal a cartload of food from a supermarket.
Drori had sentenced Biton to 180 hours of public service and ordered him to pay NIS 10,000 to the victim, Ethiopian Israeli Noga Zoraish. The High Court did not increase the punishment but added one year's suspended sentence and determined that the driving suspension should be in force for three years from the time of the sentence. Biton's criminal record will state that he has been convicted of assault, causing substantial injury and abandoning a person who has been hurt.