Israeli law enforcement officials were in close touch with their French
counterparts on Sunday over how to bring to justice two French nationals who are
suspected of fleeing to Paris after a lethal hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv on
RELATED:Int'l arrest warrant issued for French hit-and-run
Although Israel and France have an extradition arrangement in
place, law enforcement officials say authorities there usually place suspects on
trial in French courts for offenses carried out abroad.
A black BMW
linked to the suspects struck and killed Lee Zeitouni, a 25-year-old Pilates
instructor, as she walked to work in north Tel Aviv on Friday
According to police, the suspects fled the scene, driving
recklessly through red lights. Both then packed suitcases in a hurry, gathered
family members together and flew to Paris.
Speaking to Channel 10 News
from France on Sunday night, Claude Issac, 40, suspected of being behind the
wheel when the jeep struck Zeitouni, said, “We made a big mistake, but not
deliberately. I want the family of this girl to know this was an
He added, “We want to be in Israel, to go to the family and
explain how much it hurts us too.
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“I want to tell the
whole of Israel... I am Jewish. I pray every day. My heart is hurt. I don’t know
why God let me do something like this,” Issac said.
“We didn’t see her at
all. If I would have seen her, I would have pressed on the brakes. But I saw her
only when she was hit,” he added.
Issac said he did not know if he would
return to Israel.
Tel Aviv state prosecutors are waiting for the police
investigation to be complete before making a decision on whether to ask France
to extradite the men to Israel or to try them in a French court, the Justice
“Despite reports to the contrary, Israel and France do
have an extradition treaty, which is the European extradition treaty,” the
Justice Ministry said.
“In general, France, like most European countries,
does not extradite its citizens, but places them on trial in its territory for
offenses committed, after evidence is made available,” the Justice Ministry
Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said his organization was going
“all that it could do” to bring the two suspects back to Israel.
taking a series of steps to try and get them here,” Danino said.
who is suspected of being behind the wheel during the accident, left his
daughter in Tel Aviv in the care of a foreign worker before rushing to
Ben-Gurion airport and boarding a flight to Paris with the jeep’s owner,
38-year-old Eric Rubic. Police in Israel were still searching for the vehicle
and suspects when they left the country.
Hours after Issac departed,
officers traced him to the building on Tel Aviv’s Maze Street, and waited in the
home after concluding that a member of Issac’s family would return to retrieve
Issac’s wife landed in Israel from France on Saturday and found
police officers waiting in her home with the baby and caretaker. She was
reportedly unaware of the hit and run incident and her husband’s
Police urged her to call her fugitive husband, which she
proceeded to do. A line of communications was then established between the
suspect and police. Isaac told police he was consulting with a lawyer over his
next course of action.
Zeitouni was on her way to a gym to give a class
when she was struck by a black BMW sports utility vehicle on Pinkhas Street. She
was killed instantly. Thousands of people gathered at Kibbutz Neve Or on Sunday
for her funeral.
Police have asked any member of the public who witnessed
the incident to come forward.
An accident between a bus and several cars
in the Arnon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem left three people injured on
Sunday night, one critically. During the accident, one car was forced under the
wheels of the bus, and it took several minutes for emergency crews of
paramedics, firefighters and police to rescue the two people trapped in the
Magen David Adom evacuated all of the injured to Hadassah Ein Kerem
hospital. An 18-year-old man was injured critically, a 20- year-old man was
injured seriously, and a 17-year-old teenager was injured lightly. The Jerusalem
police’s traffic and transportation branch opened an investigation into the
reasons for the accident.
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