Driver jailed for 9 years for killing 8-year-old boy on Yom Kippur

Amir Abu Laben also must pay NIS 250,000 to Itay Margi’s family for 2019 death, which he caused while selling drugs; judge: ‘The circumstances of the crime… are most grave’

Amir Abu Laban (L) at the Tel Aviv District Court on December 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Amir Abu Laban (L) at the Tel Aviv District Court on December 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Tel Aviv court on Tuesday sentenced a man to nine years in prison for running over and killing an 8-year-old boy on Yom Kippur last year in the coastal city.

The Tel Aviv District Court also ordered Amir Abu Laben to pay NIS 250,000 ($77,800) in compensation to the family of Itay Margi and revoked his driver’s license for 10 years.

Abu Laben, 21, was convicted in June for killing Margi as part of a plea deal in which he also was convicted of drug trafficking and possession of a dangerous narcotic.

“The circumstances of the crime of reckless homicide are most grave and its consequences tragic,” Judge Abraham Heiman said. “A child lost his life. The defendant left his house to carry out drug deals and even managed to do four transactions. With his wild driving, the defendant created the risk of a fatal accident.”

The judge added: “This wasn’t momentary haste. The vehicle turned into a ticking time bomb that exploded, killing the deceased.”

Itay Margi (Courtesy)

Abu Laben struck Margi as the boy crossed Tel Aviv’s Namir Road on his bicycle on October 9, 2019. Margi, who was wearing a helmet, was hit at a pedestrian crossing on the normally busy road, which was almost completely empty due to Israeli taboos against driving on the High Holy Day.

As part of the plea deal, Abu Laben admitted to most of the facts detailed in the indictment in exchange for the removal of two additional charges included in the original charge sheet, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Abu Laben, a Ramle resident, admitted he had obtained cocaine and LSD with the intention of selling them in the Tel Aviv area. After completing four sales in Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv, he exceeded the speed limit along Namir Road, and, without regard for the safety of others, entered the intersection, hitting Margi.

In the moments after the collision, as Margi lay bleeding on the ground, Abu Laben threw the remaining drugs he had in his possession into the bushes on the side of the road, the indictment alleged. Police later found 1.6 grams of cocaine in the shrubs, which they believe was for distribution rather than personal use, as Abu Laben claimed. His fingerprints were reportedly found on the package.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, is marked by fasting and intense prayer by religious Jews.

Secular Israelis, especially children, are known to take advantage of the dearth of cars on the roads and highways on the somber holiday, filling the streets with bicycles.

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