Suspects in France admit guilt in TA hit-and-run death

Pair fear they would suffer from an “anti-French sentiment” in Israel were they to go on trial here for killing Lee Zeitouni.

January 1, 2012 01:25
1 minute read.
Hit-and-run victim Lee Zeitouni

Hit-and-run victim Lee Zeitouni 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Facebook)

Two Frenchmen who fled to France after killing Israeli woman Lee Zeitouni in a hitand- run in Tel Aviv have admitted being guilty of her death, but refuse to go on trial in Israel, their lawyers said at a press conference in Paris on Thursday.

The two men, Claude Isaac Hayat and Eric Rubic, hit and instantly killed 25-year-old Pilates instructor Zeitouni as she crossed the street on September 16.

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According to Joseph Cohen- Sabban, attorney for Hayat, 32, and Françoise Cotta, attorney for Rubic, 38, the pair fear they would suffer from an “anti-French sentiment” in Israel were they to go on trial here.

Cohen-Sabban said that Israelis had complained about French people pushing up the price of apartments in Tel Aviv and that there were diplomatic tensions between Paris and Jerusalem over the Middle East peace process that could influence the case.

Hayat had received death threats by telephone from the boyfriend of the victim, and had gone into hiding, Cohen- Sabban said.

The two men “are well aware of the seriousness of the facts” and are at the disposal of the French courts to “answer for their actions,” said Francoise Cotta.

Cotta and Cohen-Sabban said their clients would face the same penalty in France – 10 years in prison – as in Israel, where, the two men, they claimed, would be in physical danger. Israeli legal sources said earlier this month that the two could face up to 20 years in prison if tried in Israel.

Last week, France’s first lady Carla Bruni sent a letter to Zeitouni’s mother, Kate, in which she promised that justice would be served in the case.

“I want to inform you that Israel’s request to investigate this matter has been received.

A prosecutor has been appointed and a judge has taken charge of the investigation.

The French legal system is doing its best without delay and at the same time is in constant contact with the Israeli authorities,” Bruni wrote in response to response to correspondence sent by the Zeitouni family.

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