Hagai Felician 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Hagai Felician was charged with murder and attempted murder at the Tel Aviv District Court on Monday for his alleged role as the trigger man in the August 2009 killing of two people at the Bar Noar LGBT center in the city.
The indictment capped a four-year investigation into the shooting which claimed the lives of 26-year-old Nir Katz of Givatayim and 17-year-old Liz Troubishi from Holon and wounded 11 others.
Tel Aviv prosecutors described Felician’s alleged acts as “criminal and abominable” in their request to the court that he be held in detention until the conclusion of proceedings against him.
Motivated by vengeance, hate and hostility, Felician entered the Bar Noar with heavy clothes and a ski mask and moved through the rooms of the LGBT center firing his Tanfoglio 9 mm. pistol, and leaving only when he had emptied the weapon’s magazine, according to the indictment.
The Bar Noar case shocked the Israeli public and bedeviled Tel Aviv police for the past four years, with the case becoming in some ways even more beguiling after the arrest of the three suspects in May.
At the center of the case from day one stood Hagai Felician, who police believe was the trigger man who opened fire in the Bar Noar, killing two and wounding 11.
Felician, who was 19 at the time, was allegedly trying to avenge the sexual abuse of his younger relative at the hands of Shaul Gonen, the manager of the Bar Noar.
Police arrested Felician, the younger relative and Tarlan Hankishayev – a childhood friend who grew up with the Felicians in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak – who they say helped plan the shooting.
The case against Hankishayev was weak from the beginning, and was assumed to be largely a means of convincing him to become a witness against Felician. In the end, after 18 days in custody, Hankishayev was released.
The younger relative – whose name cannot be published because he was a minor at the time of the shooting – was also released, leaving only Felician to face murder charges in connection to the Bar Noar shooting.
The case was broken in dramatic fashion early in 2013, when the state witness, described by prosecutors as A.A., a childhood friend of the Felicians and a close relative of Hankishayev’s, came forward and told police he knew who carried out the Bar Noar shooting.
A.A., a homosexual prisoner serving time for an assault charge, gave up the three suspects and offered to become a state’s witness in the case.
Police arranged for A.A.’s sentence to be reduced by a couple of months and deployed him as a police informant, having him wear a wire at times as he met with the suspects and tried to get them to talk about the case again, four years after the fact.
The testimony recorded by the witness, largely circumstantial, will join that of Gonen, who signed a deal to be a state witness in exchange for immunity in the sex crime charge against the younger Felician. Police do not have any physical evidence connecting Felician to the crime scene or the murder weapon, nor any witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime. They do, however, have incriminating statements he made to jailhouse informants placed in his cell by police.
Police said the fact that he went AWOL from the army for four months beginning the day after the shootings indicates his involvement.