Lod District Court Judge Ruth Lorach on Sunday acquitted the man who in August 2012, allegedly ran over two runners near Kibbutz Givat Brenner with his all-terrain vehicle and then fled the scene.
Lorach said she was acquitting Yaniv Feirovskine despite his confession to the crime and significant evidence for his guilt, due to her finding that the police had improperly stacked the investigation against him, rather than pursuing all possible explanations for the incident.
Although during police interviews Feirovskine admitted that he had run over the two and left them wounded without alerting help, he subsequently disavowed his confession, after initially denying having perpetrated the crime at all.
The judge lambasted the police for telling Feirovskine repeatedly that if he confessed that they would let him go, intimating that if he confessed, it would be to a minor crime that would not lead to jail time, and preventing him from consulting with his lawyer at a critical moment in the case.
Lorach pointed out that even the prosecution had been apologetic regarding the police’s actions, but had asked the court to overlook them and accept the confession as authentic despite improper police conduct.
She said she could not do so, since there was no other external evidence that supported the theory that Feirovskine’s confession was truthful and because the confession itself had factual holes in it.
In September 2012, the state indicted Feirovskine, accusing him of driving a Yamaha tractor at high speeds near the runners on the day of the incident, August 31.
The indictment said while at first the accused simply passed the runners, he then turned around, ignored the runners’ pleas to stop and ran them down, causing serious physical harm. He then fled the scene leaving the wounded behind, and washed off his vehicle to remove any evidence, the indictment said.
The police said the confession was obtained without any irregularities, although the defendant’s lawyer has always claimed improper conduct. At his 2012 remand hearing, Feirovskine’s attorney claimed that police had said they would guarantee his client a sentence of 250 hours of community service at worst, and that he could be home for Rosh Hashana if he confessed. The police insisted all they had promised was that telling the truth would clear his conscience.