The driver suspected of running over and killing an 8-year-old boy on Yom Kippur last week was not under the influence of drugs at the time, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court heard Thursday.
Although results earlier this week from a urine sample reportedly found traces of drugs, a blood test concluded that Amir Abu Laben, 20, was clean at the time of the accident. Police have said they found drugs that eyewitnesses claim Abu Laben tossed away after the collision.
Abu Laben, from Ramle, is suspected of hitting the boy, Itay Margi, at a junction on Tel Aviv’s Namir Road last Wednesday. Margi, wearing a helmet, was hit at a pedestrian crossing.
Police suspect Abu Laben of manslaughter, traffic offenses, dealing in narcotics, and obstructing an investigation.
Eyewitnesses have told police that in the moments after the collision, Abu Laben threw something into nearby bushes. Police later found 1.6 grams of cocaine in the bushes, which they believe was for distribution rather than personal use, as Abu Laben claims. His fingerprints were reportedly found on the package.
In addition, a review of the electronic devices found in Abu Laben’s car revealed text messages indicating that clients had purchased drugs from him.
A police representative said those findings significantly bolster the suspicion that Abu Laben had been distributing drugs and had attempted to hide the evidence.
On Sunday the court remanded him for five more days — police had asked for eight days — after his detention was previously extended last week by four days.
In addition to examining traffic cameras from the scene, police have interviewed a number of eyewitnesses.
One eyewitness told police that “after the accident the only thing that interested him was to hide the stuff,” Channel 12 reported last week.
A police representative said during the hearing that one witness said Abu Laben “was driving at a crazy speed.”
An attorney for the suspect said that his client has expressed regret over what had happened and was cooperating with police.
Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, began on Tuesday at sundown last week and ended Wednesday evening, marked by a fast 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.
Also on Yom Kippur last week, 10-year-old cyclist Riad Abu Shariki was hit by a motorbike and killed on Route 443 in the center of the country.
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