Two weeks after releasing him to house arrest, the state on Sunday dropped charges against the primary suspect in a deadly shooting spree at a gay youth club in Tel Aviv that left two dead and 11 injured in 2009.
Hagai Felician was indicted in July 2013 for murder and attempted murder in what the prosecution said was a hate crime.
He was released to house arrest less than two weeks ago after spending eight months in jail pending murder charges.
On Sunday, the charges against him were dropped entirely, meaning that even if new evidence surfaces tying him to the case, he cannot be tried a second time.
Instead, the prosecution is due Monday to indict the state’s witness who testified against Felician on charges of obstruction of justice and giving false testimony.
The witness was arrested in early February and remanded later that month after police suspected the testimony he had given against Felician was false. Last week, Tel Aviv District Attorney Nava Schieler canceled the state’s agreement with the witness.
On Sunday, Felician’s supporters celebrated the state’s decision.
“We’re overjoyed,” said his attorney, Moshe Yohai. “Hagai’s truth has prevailed.”
Last month, Felician’s brother Moti said he believed the state’s witness was the one who sent the murderer to Bar Noar, the youth club.
“He knows exactly who the murderer is,” Moti Felician said. “He caught an innocent victim and proof of that is that in the end they didn’t believe him in the investigation.”
Felician had confessed to carrying out the attack to an undercover officer planted in his jail cell, after the state’s witness had turned him in. According to the indictment, Felician also told the officer he had carried out the shooting “because of the biblical edict to attack homosexuals.”
“You have everything on me, you can give yourself a pat on the back,” Felician reportedly told investigators after he realized he had spilled the beans.
Police also have recordings of Felician saying, “We did it smoothly, no one found out, it was quiet for four years.”
Felician told the state’s witness that he had carried out the attack at the Bar Noar because his 15-year-old relative was sexually assaulted by a well-known LGBT activist.
The investigation into the attack was the most expensive in the history of the Israel Police, with authorities questioning over 1,000 people.
According to the indictment, on August 1, 2009, Felician, his face hidden by a mask, entered the Bar Noar on Tel Aviv’s Nahmani street with the intention of shooting activist Shaul Ganon and anyone else inside out of “hatred for their sexual preferences.”