Almost four years after the fatal shootings at Tel Aviv’s Bar Noar LGBT youth
center, four suspects were brought to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on
Thursday to face charges in the crime.
While a sweeping gag order remains
on all details of the closed-door hearing, it can be reported that the court
extended by 11 days the remands of three suspects, including the alleged
shooter. They are suspected of planning and carrying out the attack. Police had
asked for 15 days, to finish the investigation.
The fourth suspect, a
prominent member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, is
being charged for a crime that police believe is linked to the motive for the
shooting, though they do not believe he took part in planning or carrying out
the attack that left two dead and 11 wounded on August 1, 2009.
days and weeks after the shooting, the fourth suspect was interviewed in a
number of Israeli media outlets, and expressed the hope that police would find
the killers. He reportedly cooperated fully with investigators and offered a
helping hand to survivors suffering from trauma from the shooting.
scene at the courthouse was fitting for a case that has been described as the
most costly investigation in the history of the Israel Police. The courthouse
was jam-packed with reporters and photographers, as well as special patrol unit
officers, senior detectives from the Tel Aviv central investigative unit and a
number of undercover officers.
The hearing was closed to the public, but
the presiding judge allowed journalists to be present.
The police case
presented in the hearing rules out the hatecrime motive, popularly seized upon
after the shooting. There were suspicions at the time that the killer may have been a religious Jew who
None of the suspects brought in on Thursday were
Though it is still covered by the gag order, police in court
laid out a very specific and personal motive for the suspects to carry out the
attack. They added that the crime was planned over the course of the week or 10
days that preceded the shooting.
The main motive appears to have been
revenge against a member of the community who allegedly wronged one of the
suspects. The shooter allegedly went to the center and opened fire hoping to
kill the person with whom he had a score to settle, but instead killed volunteer
and youth counselor Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Triboshi, 16, and wounded 11 people,
most of them minors.
The charges against each of the three Bar Noar
attack suspects include two counts of murder in the first degree and 11 counts
of attempted murder.
The charges against the fourth man, the member of
the LGBT community, are still covered by the gag order.
Of the three main
suspects, two appear to be directly involved with the planning and execution of
the murder, including one who police said was the trigger man. The third man
appears to be suspected of being involved to a lesser extent.
said they still had ample work left before the men could be indicted, may try to
convince the third suspect to testify against the principal two.
charges against the member of the LGBT community, whose remand was extended by
four days, could also be used to convince him to implicate the two principal
suspects in the murders.
The two principal suspects are also wanted for
what police said were dozens of car break-ins, as well as one case of arson.
They face drug and weapons charges, and one of the three may face a possession
of explosives charge.
Two of the suspects were arrested by police on
Wednesday afternoon, while they were driving through Bnei Brak.
said on Thursday that one of the principal suspects was interrogated on
Wednesday for more than six hours before police announced to reporters that they
had arrested three suspects in the Bar Noar attack.
spokesman for The Aguda – The Israeli National LGBT Task Force, said at the
courthouse on Thursday: “Four years have gone by, and the story is so crazy that
I don’t know what to say.”
Langer, who was a youth counselor at the youth
center and was seriously wounded in the shooting, said of the LGBT community
member facing criminal charges, “This is not the person I know. The person I
know and what they’re saying are two extremes.”
Defense attorney Orit
Hayoun, whose client was a minor at the time of the killings, said that her
client has denied the allegations, as did the lawyers representing the other two
suspects in the shooting. She warned in court that other suspects had been named
or even arrested in the past, including “Jewish terrorist” Jake Tytell, who
confessed to the shootings before police determined he played no part in the
The last time police announced a major development in the case was
in December, when, following a leak that was published online, police laid out
for crime reporters what was considered a potential breakthrough.
piece of evidence is still covered by a gag order.
Code-named “Flowers in
the gun barrel,” the Bar Noar case has bedeviled Tel Aviv police for
The announcement of the arrests came two days before the annual
Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, as well as two days after new Tel Aviv Police head
Cmdr. Bentzi Sau was sworn in.