A 42-year-old Egged bus driver convicted of indecently assaulting and falsely
imprisoning a 15-year-old passenger will spend 36 months in prison, the Haifa
District Court ruled on Tuesday.
Muhammad Abd al-Halim Zuabi, from Kfar
Manda in the Western Galilee, assaulted the schoolgirl, now aged 17, after she
boarded his route 205 “Kav Layla” night bus in Haifa in July 2010.
addition to the three-year prison term, Judge Zaid Falah sentenced Zuabi to an
eight-month suspended sentence, and ordered him to pay the victim NIS 20,000
In passing the sentence, Falah said Zuabi, whom Egged has
since dismissed, had abused his role as a driver to harm the complainant, who
had simply wished to take the bus home late at night.
Falah recalled how
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav had said that the Kav Layla project was important,
because it helped young people enjoy the northern city’s nightlife and return
The Kav Layla buses, operated by the Transportation
Ministry, run from midnight until 4 a.m. in several major cities, on routes
between popular recreation areas and residential areas. The project was designed
to allow young people to go out safely late at night, without risks such as
drunk driving or latenight hitchhiking, and without having to spend money on
fuel or taxis.
According to the indictment, the complainant asked Zuabi
whether he could stop the bus for her in Haifa’s Merkaz Hacarmel residential
district, where she could switch to another bus line to take her home. There was
only one other passenger on the bus at the time, the indictment
However, when Zuabi reached the girl’s bus stop, he did not stop to
let her disembark and drove on to the next stop, where the other passenger got
Zuabi then told the girl she was “beautiful,” and that he had
noticed how she had kissed her boyfriend at the bus stop.
He stopped the
bus and sat down on a passenger seat, asking the girl to join him, but when she
refused, Zuabi indecently assaulted her. Only after some time did he
drive back to the girl’s neighborhood.
During the trial, Zuabi denied the
charges against him and blamed the complainant for lying about the night’s
In Tuesday’s court hearing, the judge sharply criticized Zuabi
for arguing in court that the complainant had made up the story of the
assault.“Let the defendant and his ilk know that women’s bodies are not there
for the taking, and that if they cause a woman harm, it could well result in a
painful punishment,” Falah said.
Zuabi had damaged society as well as the
complainant, Falah added, because as a result of his actions the public may be
deterred from using public transportation.