(photo credit: WWW.PIKIWIKI.ORG.IL)
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday convicted two defendants and acquitted a third of negligent manslaughter in the death of Sec.-Lt. Hila Betzaleli during a rehearsal for the Independence Day ceremony on the capital’s Mount Herzl in 2012.
The incident shook the nation with a seemingly arbitrary tragedy during what is generally viewed as one of the year’s most unifying high points.
Those convicted as part of a plea bargain were Elad Lavie, deputy CEO of the Itzuv Bima stage design company, who will likely be sentenced to six months in prison, and Taimorez Leonidze, the company’s operations manager, who is likely to receive a sentence of seven months.
Itzuv Bima was responsible for putting up the lighting scaffolding that collapsed and killed Betzaleli.
The amount that will be fined to compensate the family is still undecided.
The company’s CEO Doron Lavi was acquitted, while the cases against Oren Varshavski, the structure’s engineer, and Yitzhak Zucker, who served as the safety consultant for the event, are still pending.
The accident occurred on April 18, 2012, when a 10-meter tall steel light rigging system collapsed.
Soldiers from the color guard who were rehearsing for the ceremony got trapped beneath the large lighting truss when it fell shortly after 3 p.m. Bezaleli, 20, was killed and another soldier was critically injured. Two other victims were lightly injured.
Witnesses said at the time that the steel structure was wavering dangerously in the wind, when someone called out, “It’s going to fall!” before the entire structure crashed to the ground.
After the decision, Bezaleli’s mother, Sigalit, continued to attack the defendants for not sufficiently apologizing for doing their work cheaply to increase their profits at the cost of her daughter’s life.
The convictions and indictments came after a 2014 opinion was issued by experts at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa that served as a strong technical foundation for the case against the defendants.
Under police questioning it became clear that Itzuv Bima did not obtain all of the required permits.