Murder charges dropped against 2 Bar Noar suspects

Suspected shooter Hagai Felician the sole suspect to face a murder trial; lawyer denies reports Felician confessed to police.

June 23, 2013 20:20
3 minute read.
Bar Noar suspects in court, June 23, 2013.

Suspect in Bar Noar shooting 370. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Two of the three suspects in the Bar Noar murders will not face charges for the shooting, leaving Hagai Felician, the suspected trigger man, as the sole suspect set to face a murder trial.

Felician’s attorney, Moshe Sherman, denied reports that his client had confessed to carrying out the August 1, 2009 shooting at a gay youth center in Tel Aviv that left two dead and 15 wounded, saying that at no time did he make an official confession.

He added that if an official confession was made, why would police ask for an additional 11-day remand, eventually agreeing to an eight-day remand extension.

Sherman’s denial runs contrary to police, who said in court on Sunday that Felician told investigators he wants to fire his lawyer, adding “this is a waste of money, bring someone from the public defender’s office.

You have everything on me, you solved the case – you should congratulate yourselves.”

The YAMAR detective said in court that immediately after that statement, Felician was asked by detectives if what he just said was a confession, and which point Felician went back on the statement, saying he wasn’t making a confession.

Police said in court that Felician’s statement came after he was presented with statements he made to two jailhouse informants police placed in his cell for a few days, in which he reportedly confessed to the crime.

Police would not, however, detail what he actually told the informants.

There was an altogether different mood among the defendants on Sunday. At the first two hearings they were defiant, with the younger suspect and Felician laughing and mugging for the cameras, cracking that the police case was nothing but a heap of lies that wouldn’t warrant an indictment. On Sunday, suspect Tarlan Hankishayev kept his head down and looked ashen, while Hagai was sullen, wearing a black kippa and keeping silent throughout the hearing. The second defendant, the youngest of the three, made a few comments against the police case, but otherwise kept quiet.

Judge Ido Duriyan said of the unnamed suspect, a relative of Felician, that “there is not enough evidence that suspect two was involved in the murder,” but ordered him to be kept in custody for another 48 hours, because of allegations that he tried to order a pistol from the state witness in order to settle an account with a criminal rival.

Police have said that the firearm deal was reported by the state witness, but admitted that they never interviewed the person who was the alleged subject of the dispute with the suspect. At this point, it appears the only charge the younger suspect will face involves the firearms case.

Hankishayev was released to 14 days of house arrest at the hearing on Sunday, after police were unable – in the 19 days since his arrest – to find enough evidence to indicate that he was involved in the planning of the murder. The only piece of evidence they have leaned on is that Hankishayev supplied Felician with a ski mask before the murder, a fact the court has said is not enough to implicate him as an accessory to murder. As part of his house arrest, Hankishayev is not allowed to give interviews to the press or speak to the other suspects.

Though police originally asked to extend Felician’s remand by an additional 11 days, they agreed with the defense to hold another hearing next Sunday.

Sunday’s hearing came the morning after police managed to catch the star witness in the Bar Noar case, a close relative of Hankishayev’s who slipped out of his safe house in Tel Aviv earlier Thursday morning, sending hundreds of police searching for him across the country.

Police said in court on Sunday that when they found the witness, they were able to place him under arrest because he violated his immunity deal. At the moment he is still considered a detainee, and has been placed in another safe house under house arrest.

Police said the witness, who broke the case earlier this year when he told the police from prison that he knew who carried out the Bar Noar murder, apologized to detectives and has agreed to return to the deal he signed with police, and serve as a witness in the case.

The witness’s run from his safe house was a serious headache for police, coming a little over a week after they violated a gag order in a press conference they gave to announce details of how they cracked their flagship murder case.

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