Israel frees soldier jailed for killing British activist

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An Israeli soldier jailed for killing a pro-Palestinian British activist was freed on Wednesday after serving six and a half years of an eight-year sentence, a military spokeswoman said.

"Taysir Wahid, a member of the Bedouin scout unit, was released on Wednesday morning after six and a half years in prison," the spokeswoman said, without providing further details.

The soldier had been sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter after shooting Tom Hurndall of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Hurndall was shot in the head in the Rafah refugee camp in April 2003. He died in January 2004 at the age of 22 in a London hospital after spending nine months in a persistent vegetative state.

Fellow activists who witnessed the shooting said he was trying to pull two children out of danger with a group of other foreign activists and Palestinian civilians when shots were fired from an army watchtower some 100 metres (yards) away.

The ISM is a group of foreign activists who carry out nonviolent actions to protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

The prosecution had argued that releasing the soldier early would harm Israel's diplomatic relations with Britain, Israeli media reported in July.

But a military commission found that Wahid's behaviour had changed and that he no longer represented a danger, a military official said.

© 2010 AFP

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