Arab taxi driver's killer deemed unfit for trial

Court deems Julian Sofir insane; family of slain driver: It's because he's Jewish and we're Arab.

tayseer Karaki arab taxi driver 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
tayseer Karaki arab taxi driver 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Thursday that Julian Sofir, who allegedly murdered Arab taxi driver Tayseer Karaki in 2007, was unfit to stand trial in light of the results of his psychiatric evaluations. Speculation regarding Sofir's mental state began to surface after he exhibited seemingly irrational behavior during his first appearance in court. Sofir, who had recently become religious, appeared in court without a head covering and continued to make faces and clap his hands, sticking out his tongue at reporters covering the event. According to an account of the events leading up to the May 14 murder, Sofir had gone to Jerusalem, where he hired Karaki to drive him back to Tel Aviv. But instead of driving directly to Tel Aviv, they drove first to Netanya, where Sofir allegedly stopped at the home of his brother Jonathan. Sofir allegedly entered the apartment and picked up the knife that was used shortly afterward to commit the murder. When the two arrived in Tel Aviv, they entered Sofir's Rehov Yona Hanavi residence, where Sofir allegedly stabbed the driver in the throat. It is believed that Sofir left Karaki, a father of five, lying in a pool of blood and drove his taxi to Netanya, where he picked up Jonathan and brought him back to Tel Aviv. "I didn't feel anything," Sofir later said in a statement to police. "It was like slaughtering a beast." Several months ago the court rejected the state's request that a panel of experts be established to evaluate Sofir's mental condition accurately. "We'll read the decision and study it," said prosecution attorney Anat Ben-Ze'ev. "At the end of the day, this means that he will be hospitalized and locked away in a psychiatric institution... It will be impossible to indict him, because the court decided that he was insane at the time of the murder." Members of Karaki's family protested Thursday's decision, claiming that Sofir had already confessed to carrying out the murder. "We won't sit quietly," said Siham Karaki, the slain taxi driver's sister. "We will return to the court even if it takes 10 years more. He was released only because he's Jewish and my brother was Arab." Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.