Bar Noar state witness caught after fleeing protective custody

Bar Noar state witness caught after fleeing protective custody

Man detained by police for questioning; residents of Tel Aviv apartment where he was found arrested as well

A man mourns the dead in the Bar Noar shooting in Tel Aviv, August 2, 2009 (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)
A man mourns the dead in the Bar Noar shooting in Tel Aviv, August 2, 2009 (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The state’s witness in the criminal case against the perpetrators of a deadly attack on a gay youth club in Tel Aviv was apprehended on Saturday after escaping Thursday from the safe haven apartment that was provided to him by police.

Tel Aviv detectives caught the man hiding in a Tel Aviv apartment after he returned from a weekend in northern Israel, according to Ynet. Israel Radio reported that the two residents of the apartment were detained for questioning on suspicion that they knowingly hid the witness.

The witness was taken into police custody for apparently breaking his agreement with the state. Investigators will clarify whether he intends to testify against the suspects in the Bar Noar murder case.

According to an initial inquiry, at approximately 2 a.m. Thursday morning the witness told the police officers guarding him at the apartment that he was going to sleep. His absence was discovered in the morning, and it is believed that he jumped out of the window.

A senior police official referred to the escape as “an indescribable failure,” according to Ynet.

The witness’s mother told Ynet that she had no sympathy for her son, who in her words “ruined the entire family.” She said she was not in contact with her son and that she didn’t want to see him.

The 2009 shooting at the Bar Noar youth club left two people dead and 11 injured. The investigation into the attack has been one of the most expensive in recent history, with authorities questioning over 1,000 people.

Police were finally able to make headway in their investigation four months ago, when the man who would become the state’s witness turned himself in.

The witness told police that he was aware that the suspects intended to harm Shaul Ganon, one of the youth club’s founders, for sexual offenses he had allegedly committed against a minor related to the suspects. The state’s witness maintains that he did not know that they intended to kill Ganon.

On the day of the attack, Ganon wasn’t at the Bar Noar, and the suspects proceeded to shoot other people present.

The witness said he had provided the suspects with the address of the youth club, where he thought their intended victim would be, as well as information for reaching and escaping from the area. The witness was also said to have provided the primary suspect, Haggai Felician, with the black mask that he wore during the attack.

Tel Aviv District Commander Gadi Eshed said earlier this month that the state witness’s motives for helping police were twofold. First, “his criminal associates turned their backs on him; he felt betrayed in the moment of truth. His second motive stemmed from the fact that he himself is a member of the [gay] community… he felt pangs of conscience.”

Yoel Goldman and Asher Zeiger contributed to this report. 

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