No plea bargain for lawyer charged in car crash deaths

The state prosecution has backed away from a plea bargain agreement with prominent lawyer Avigdor Klagsblad and will ask the court to convict him of causing death by criminal negligence when he smashed into a car and killed both its passengers in April, sources said Wednesday. Earlier this week, Klagsblad's lawyer, Dan Scheineman, and the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office informed the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court that Klagsblad would plead guilty at the next hearing, scheduled for September 19. A statement to this effect was released to the press on Wednesday. In a separate statement to the press on the same day, the Justice Ministry said that Klagsblad and the state prosecution had not reached a plea bargain agreement. However, attorney Zari Hazan, who represents the bereaved family, told The Jerusalem Post that the state had, in fact, reached an agreement with the defense on the draft of a plea bargain agreement and had showed it to his clients last week. The family rejected the agreement but, according to Hazan, the state actually backed down because of strong public opinion against such a move. In the end, the prosecution rejected two demands by Klagsblad and Scheineman. The first was to change the charge from "causing death by criminal negligence" to "causing death by negligence." The second was to change the estimate of the speed at which Klagsblad was driving at the time of the collision from "more than 80 kilometers per hour" to "80 kilometers per hour." Hazan said the court would determine the charge against Klagsblad. If Klagsblad is convicted of "causing death by criminal negligence," he is liable to a sentence of up to three years in jail. Scheineman will reportedly ask the court to sentence his client to community service. The accident occurred on April 11. Klagsblad was heading south on Derech Namir in north Tel Aviv when he crashed into a private vehicle, killing 23-year-old Yevgenia Vexler and her six-year-old-son, Arthur. The Vexlers' car was waiting behind a row of cars at a red light. Vexler, who emigrated from the Ukraine, was a promising athlete who trained with the Macabbi Tel Aviv athletic club. Since then, the police and prosecution have come under fire for allegedly taking too long to investigate the accident and press criminal charges against Klagsblad, who is one of the most prominent lawyers in the country and has represented many of its most powerful people. There has been concern that because Klagsblad is wealthy and belongs to the elite, law enforcement authorities will treat him favorably.