(photo credit: COURTESY OF FAMILY)
Three years after the fact, two French men were slated to be sentenced in France on Thursday for the killing of an Israeli woman in a hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv.
The trial is the culmination of a case of twists that has soured relations between France and Israel.
Lee Zeitouni, a 25-year-old physiotherapy student, was killed in September 2011 after being hit by a four-wheel-drive carrying two men in their 30s, who admitted to immediately boarding a flight for Paris to avoid capture.
The scandal had become a cause celebre in Israel, which does not have a formal extradition treaty with France.
France does not extradite its own citizens and the row over what to do with her suspected killers has worsened relations made already tense by France's support for a Palestinian state.
Lawyers acting for the two men said later that their clients, Claude Khayat and Eric Robic, admitted to being in the car at the time of the accident and were ready to face French courts, but did not want to return or be sent to Israel.
The father of Lee Zeitouni said on Wednesday that he expected French justice to punish the two suspects very severely.
"I think these people have to be put away, seriously and I expect the court tomorrow to be able to see that and to see how bad they are. Not just in regard to our accident. And I think that the court is able to see that, and when they realize that, they will act accordingly, they will make the decisions accordingly and will punish them as severely as possible," Itzik Zeitouni said.
Itzik and Kate Zeitouni will face the suspected killers of their daughter for the first time in Paris on Thursday.
Itzik Zeitouni said that he expected that this face to face would make the suspected killers realize their act and feel something about it.
"At the moment I feel totally indifferent but I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow. On the whole I think I would like to tell them or to make sure that when they look at their children they think of mine, of the life they took. Perhaps they will feel something," Itzik Zeitouni added.
Gilles-William Goldnadel, the lawyer acting for the parents of Lee Zetouni said that he was confident about the sentence and that the legal file contained enough incriminating evidence against the suspects.
"I think we started this last line in a spirit of confidence from the French public opinion from the French justice. Serenity is not the right word in relation to this tragedy. But in any case, we have the feeling that the legal file speaks for itself and is also overwhelming," Gilles-William Goldnadel said.
Eric Robic, the driver accused of involuntary manslaughter, failure to comply with a red light and failure to assist a person in danger, faces up to 10 years in prison and a 150,000 euros fine. Claude Khayat is to be tried for failure to assist a person in danger and could face up to five years in prison and a 75,000 euros fine.
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