By BEN HARTMAN
The criminal trial of alleged Jewish terrorist Ya'aov "Jake" Teitel began in the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, with the families of Teitel's alleged victims coming to face their loved ones' suspected attacker for the first time.
Presiding judges decided to delay the reading of the indictment against Teitel until January 10, partly due to the fact that his lawyer, Adi Keitar, was not able to attend the hearing as he was performing IDF reserve service.
There was some drama at one point during the hearing, when Teitel refused Judge Tzvi Segel's demand that he stand in order to hear the charges against him. As the judge said, "Please rise," Teitel sat still and shook his head. The judge then said, "You don't want to stand? You're in a courthouse, stand up."
Teitel continued to sit in his place and answered, "I can hear you from here." At this point, the judge continued carrying on proceedings and did not charge Teitel with contempt of court.
Teitel was led into court by three prisons services guards before a mob of reporters and cameramen. As in previous court appearances, he smiled and flashed the "V" sign as he was walking down the corridor. When he entered the courtroom, relatives of Samir Baldisi, the taxi driver he is suspected of murdering in 1997 shouted "trash" at him. Teitel remained silent and kept a grin on his face as reporters mobbed him in the courthouse, only speaking up to say, "God is king, God is king" in Hebrew.
The civil suit Teitel's alleged victims' families are to present seeks damages of NIS 2 million for both the family of Ami Ortiz, a 15-year-old critically wounded by a pipe bomb Teitel is suspected of leaving at his house, and of Samir Baldisi, a taxi driver from east Jerusalem who Teitel is suspected of murdering in 1997.
Ami's father David, who leads a messianic Jewish congregation in Ariel, told The Jerusalem Post that he and his wife came to the hearing because "it's important for [Teitel] to see that we are still here, we're still alive and he did not succeed in destroying us."
After the hearing adjourned, David said he was feeling fine and that "it's not every day you see a trained assassin, it's not every day you see the man who tried to murder your family." He added that it is very encouraging to see that justice is being carried out.
Ami's mother Leah said, "My heart has been pounding since 5:30 AM this morning. Being here takes me back to that morning," Leah said, adding that like David, she wanted to come "in order to show him that he did not succeed in destroying us."
After the hearing, Samir Balbisi's father Akram was sitting on a bench speaking with his lawyer and his murdered son's cousin Ibrahim. He told the Post of his family's struggles since his son was murdered 12 years ago, saying that he hasn't worked since his son's passing and his wife has suffered from a litany of serious ailments ever since, health problems that he believes derived from his son's death.
Akram added "I wanted to come and look into his eyes. This man came from America to kill Arabs, but he didn't care who he killed. I hope he gets what he deserves."
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