Suspect in Bar Noar shooting 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Police on Saturday caught the star witness in the Bar Noar murder case, hiding
in a towel pantry underneath a sink in a Tel Aviv studio apartment.
midnight on Wednesday night, he fled from his safe house in the city, triggering
a man-hunt involving hundreds of police officers.
The witness did not
resist arrest, police said. He is in custody at Tel Aviv District headquarters,
where officers will have to try to persuade him to honor his deal to act as a
Police added that the witness had broken into the
apartment on Yitzhak Sadeh Street where he was found.
flight was a clear violation of the immunity deal he signed with police, giving
them the right to arrest him on sight, officers said. The violation means police
will have to examine whether they can go forward with the agreement, and
officers from the Tel Aviv Central Investigative Unit are meeting with
representatives of the State Attorney’s Office on the issue.
from the unit said on Saturday night that even though the witness spent more
than two days on the run, police knew at all times where he was, and chose to
trail him until the right opportunity to take him into custody.
believed that the witness spent most of the time in the North before returning
to the central region. It emerged on Saturday that the witness and an associate
checked into a small boutique hotel in Haifa on Thursday afternoon, hours after
he had escaped.
Police were called to the hotel not long after, but the
witness and his associate managed to slip away before officers arrived at the
The incident has been a major embarrassment for Tel Aviv
police, still reeling from a press conference on June 10 that turned into a
public humiliation, when they reported details of the case to all major Israeli
news outlets, while the case was still under a gag order.
Israel Police Insp.-Gen.
Yohanan Danino appointed a committee of inquiry
to examine how the man managed to evade the detectives securing the safe house.
The witness exited the bedroom window around 2 a.m., after it was assumed he had
gone to sleep. Although detectives were posted both inside the apartment and
outside the building, regulations did not allow them to enter the witness’s room
after he closed the door and went to sleep.
Danino will also have to
examine the decision not to place the man in the national witness protection
program, leaving him in the care of Tel Aviv Central Investigative Unit
detectives – partially to make it easier for them to call him in for meetings
and court appearances. It would have been more difficult for him to escape if he
had been staying outside Tel Aviv.
To make matters worse for police,
while officers were scouring the Tel Aviv area and searching in the North,
Channel 2 scored a sit-down interview with him.
During the interview, he
said, “I’m like the walking dead. I’m alive but I’m dead on the inside. There is
pressure on me from the police, who are waiting for results and pressure from
the suspects and every second you’re worried about your life.”
witness is key to the police case against the three suspects in the attack that
killed two and wounded 11 at the Bar Noar LGBT youth center – Hagai Felician,
Tarlan Hankeshayev and a third suspect, a relative of Felician who can’t be
named because he was a minor at the time of the murders. The witness is the one
who first came forward to police, breaking the case open.
If anything had
happened to him while he was on the run, it could have dealt a mortal blow to
the state’s case.
The witness allegedly helped plan the August , 2009 shooting, which left two dead and 11 wounded. He signed an immunity deal as part of his agreement to testify, and spend the months leading up to the arrests working as a police agent, wearing a wire-tap and recording his conversations with the suspects.