State witness in Bar Noar case to remain in custody as case hangs in the balance

Tel Aviv judge extends by 6 months the remand of close relative of one original Bar Noar suspect, childhood friend of Hagai Felician.

Hagai Felician 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Hagai Felician 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
A Tel Aviv judge on Thursday extended by six days the remand of “Z.,” the state witness in the Bar Noar case, who stands accused of fabricating evidence and obstruction of justice in a case that now looks set to collapse at any moment.
Z. is a close relative of one of the original Bar Noar suspects and a childhood friend of Hagai Felician, who was indicted for the 2009 shooting that left two dead in a Tel Aviv LGBT center.
In the past week, police have found indications that suggested that the proof Z. had provided them months prior to the conviction of Hagai Felician may have been falsified.
On Thursday afternoon, Z. walked into the same Tel Aviv courtroom where Hagai, Benny Felician and Tarlan Hankishayev of Pardes Katz were brought eight months ago when the Bar Noar case broke, ending what had been the flagship investigation for Tel Aviv police.
Z. smiled in court and refused to answer journalists asking if his arrest meant Hagai did not carry out the crime.
Z.’s lawyer, Yair Regev, said of the arrest on Thursday: “They say he lied, OK so he lied, so now we need to punish him and arrest him? He was in prison during the killing how could he give evidence about what happened?” Regev added “so he told some stories, but [the] police are the ones that believed him and now they want to punish him? They probably have evidence that shows that he lied, and they’re angry about it.”
The case against Hagai Felician was built almost entirely upon the testimony of Z. and includes no DNA, fingerprints or eye witness.
Z. has been a headache for his handlers almost from the beginning, violating an agreement not to speak to the press and escaping from the safe house where he was under police protection in Tel Aviv.
On Thursday the state ordered him to remain in the custody of the Witness Protection unit and to cut off all access to telephones, television and the Internet in his safe house.