Suspect in TA hit-and-run caught speeding in France

Driver who killed 25-year-old Lee Zeitouni and fled to France fined for going 156 km/h and released by French authorities.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 1, 2012 06:29
1 minute read.
Hit-and-run victim Lee Zeitouni

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

 
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The Frenchman who admitted to killing Israeli woman Lee Zeitouni in a Tel Aviv hitand- run accident and fled to France in September was arrested by French police for driving 156 km/h, Israeli media reported Saturday night.

According to the reports, Claude Isaac Hayat was freed after paying a fine for speeding.

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The incident came days after Hayat and Eric Rubic, who were both in the car that hit Zeitouni, admitted their guilt, but refused to go on trial in Israel for fear they would suffer from “anti-French sentiment.”

Hayat’s lawyer, Joseph Cohen-Sabban, said Israelis had complained about the French pushing up the price of apartments in Tel Aviv and 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, Rubic’s lawyer.

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 said, would be in physical danger.

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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 correspondence sent by the Zeitouni family.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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