Court: Release Mt. Herzl engineer to house arrest

Engineer remains in custody while police appeal decision; allegations include forgery, bribery, negligent manslaughter.

Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Lighting rig falls at Har Herzl 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem Police on Thursday were seeking to extend the remands of four people arrested in connection with the collapse of a lighting rig above a stage at the capital's Mount Herzl that killed one female soldier and injured a number of others on Wednesday. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ordered the release of one suspect.
Police were investigating the four, the stage designer, an engineer, a safety consultant and one other person, for negligent manslaughter. The suspects stand accused of forging documents, paying bribes to secure the Mount Herzl job and others, Army Radio reported.
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court released the engineer to house arrest Thursday afternoon. However, the court allowed police to continue holding him in custody until Friday morning in order to give police time to appeal the decision.
Another of the suspects had already been released by police and the other two's remand was being discussed by the court.
Soldiers taking part in the rehearsals on the stage for Independence Day ceremonies warned 20 minutes before the collapse that the lighting rig appeared unstable, but their calls were ignored.
Twenty-year-old Hila Betzaleli, who was killed when the lighting structure fell on her, was laid to rest at the Mount Herzl military ceremony late on Wednesday night. Hundreds of people attended the funeral.
Four others were injured, one critically, during the rehearsal for the annual celebration of Independence Day when the 10-meter-tall steel light rigging system collapsed. The other victims were injured lightly and treated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
Witnesses said the steel structure was wavering dangerously in the wind, and someone called out “It’s going to fall!” before the entire structure crashed to the ground. One teenage Jerusalem resident, who was watching his cousin at the rehearsal, said he saw Bezaleli lying on the ground after the columns collapsed.
Jerusalem District Police Dep.-Cmdr. Manny Yitzhaki said police were investigating every angle of the incident. “We will investigate the facts one by one to understand how this happened and who is responsible,” he said.
Yitzhaki added that police were checking how the structure was built and had detained a number of engineers involved in its construction for questioning.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.