Suspect in Bar Noar shooting 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The state’s key witness in the Bar Noar murder case disappeared from a police
safe house late Wednesday night, sending officers scrambling across the Tel Aviv
area to find him.
Israel Police Insp.-Gen.Yohanan Danino has
appointed a committee of inquiry to examine how the man managed to slip away
from the detectives securing the safe house. It is believed he exited the
bedroom window after it was assumed he had gone to sleep.
detectives were posted both inside the apartment and at the building,
regulations did not allow them to enter the witness’s room after he closed the
door and went to sleep.
The witness was not yet in the national witness
protection program, and therefore still living in the Tel Aviv area – partially
for easier access to meetings with detectives and for eventual court
Had he been staying outside of Tel Aviv, it may have been
more difficult for him to escape.
The witness was gone for several hours
before detectives discovered he was missing. By Thursday night they still had
not located him and were using all the means at their disposal to find him.
There was concern he might try to flee the country, and airport authorities were
As police continued to search for the witness, a reporter for
Channel 2 managed to score a sitdown interview with the man. He spoke about his
mental state and described what he said happened after the Bar Noar shooting in
“I’m like the walking dead. I’m alive but I’m dead on the
inside. There is pressure on me from the police, who are waiting for results and
pressure from the suspects and every second you’re worried about your life,” the
“I didn’t do it for money or so they’d erase my
My conscience was haunting me and I wanted to settle an account,”
the witness said, when asked about his motive for coming forward.
claimed that the day after the Bar Noar shooting, during which two people were
killed and 15 wounded, he contacted officers from Tel Aviv’s central
investigative investigative unit in order to tell them what happened, but he got
cold feet by the time he met with them. The witness told Channel 2, “I gave them
a very strong clue: I told them drop all your leads and focus on Shaul
Ganon is the former manager of the Bar Noar center for LGBT youth
accused of the sexual assault of one of the three suspects who was 15 years old
at the time.
This incident was the alleged motive for the
The man also claimed that two years after the shooting, Hagai
Felician, the suspected trigger-man, said of Ganon “how is this son-of-a-b----
not dead? At least I killed a few others.”
The witness – a young gay
relative of one of the three suspects in the 2009 shooting at the Tel Aviv youth
center – is at the center of the police case against the three defendants, Hagai
Felician, Tarlan Hankishayev and a third suspect, a relative of Felician’s who
cannot be named because he was a minor when the crime occurred.
witness broke the case when he came forward and told police he knew who carried
out the shooting.
He said he helped the suspects plan the shooting, but
has been given immunity in exchange for his testimony against Hankishayev who is
a close relative of his and against the two other suspects.
was in jail for a violent offense when he gave his testimony – the latest in a
series of jail stints. His disappearance this week and the TV interview could
potentially further call his character into question.
If something were
to happen to the witness it could deal a mortal blow to the case. Nevertheless,
they would still have the wiretap recordings he made in the few months he was
working for police, as well as the Ganon’s testimony.
Ganon was arrested
earlier this month for allegedly raping the then-under-age young defendant, but
signed a deal last week that granted him immunity in exchange for becoming a
The witness’s disappearance is the latest embarrassment in
the handling of the Bar Noar arrests by Tel Aviv police. Last Monday, police
commanders held a press conference running down the details of the case, only
for the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to extend the gag order about a half-hour
The police was forced to tell crime reporters to remove all
details of the case from their articles, which had already been widely
The incident turned a triumphant press conference into a
public humiliation and led Danino to announce a moratorium on high-profile press
conferences by police.