yaacov teitel 248.88.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The criminal trial of alleged Jewish terrorist Ya'acov Tytell began Wednesday in Jerusalem District Court, where the families of Tytell's alleged victims came to face their loved ones' suspected attacker for the first time.
Presiding judges decided to delay the reading of the indictment against Tytell until January 10, partly because his lawyer, Adi Keitar, was doing reserve duty and couldn't attend the hearing.
The state's indictment against Tytell spans 25 pages and includes two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted murder involving 14 separate incidents between 1997 and 2008.
There was a bit of drama at one point during the hearing, when Tytell refused Judge Tzvi Segel's demand that he stand to hear the charges against him.
As the judge said "please rise," Tytell sat still and shook his head. The judge then said, "You don't want to stand? You're in a courthouse, stand up."
Tytell continued to sit in his place and answered, "I can hear you from here." The judge continued with the proceedings without charging Tytell with contempt of court.
Tytell was led into court by three Prisons Service guards before a mob of reporters and cameramen. As in previous court appearances, he smiled and flashed the "V for victory" sign as he walked down the corridor.
When he entered the courtroom, relatives of Samir Balbisi, the taxi driver he is suspected of murdering in 1997 shouted "trash" at him. Tytell remained silent and grinning as reporters mobbed him in the courthouse, only speaking up to say "God is king, God is king" in Hebrew.
The back of the courtroom was packed with supporters of both sides, with relatives of Balbisi sitting on benches directly in front of and next to a bench full of members of the right-wing settler defense fund Honenu, which is backing Tytell's defense.
Tytell's wife Rivka sat in the corner alongside the Honenu contingent, with the couple's infant son wrapped in a sling across her chest.
The civil suit the victims' families plan to file seeks damages of NIS 2 million each for the family of Ami Ortiz, a 15-year-old critically wounded by a pipe bomb Tytell is suspected of leaving at his house in Ariel, and the Balbisis.
Ami's father David Ortiz, who leads a messianic Jewish congregation in Ariel, told The Jerusalem Post that he and his wife came to the hearing because "it's important for him [Tytell] to see that we are still here, we're still alive and he did not succeed in destroying us."
After the hearing adjourned, David Ortiz said he was feeling fine and that "it's not every day you see a trained assassin; it's not every day you see the man who tried to murder your family."
He added that it is very encouraging to see that justice is being carried out.
Ami's mother Leah said, "My heart has been pounding since 5:30 this morning. Being here takes me back to that morning."
She added that, like David, she wanted to come "in order to show him [Tytell] that he was not able to destroy us."
After the hearing, Balbisi's father Akram was sitting on a bench speaking with his lawyer and his murdered son's cousin Ibrahim. He told the Post of his family's struggles since his son was murdered 12 years ago, saying that he hasn't worked since his son's passing and his wife has suffered from a litany of health problems that he believes derived from his son's death.
"I wanted to come and look into his eyes," Akram Balbisi said. "This man came from America to kill Arabs, but he didn't care who he killed. I hope he gets what he deserves."