The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday remanded in custody for five days a driver suspected of running over and killing an 8-year-old boy on Yom Kippur last week, as evidence mounted that he had been under the influence of drugs at the time.
Amir Abu Laben, 20, from Ramle is suspected of hitting the boy, Itay Margi, at a junction on Tel Aviv’s Namir Road. Margi, who was wearing a helmet, was hit at a pedestrian crossing.
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.
Police suspect Abu Laben of manslaughter, traffic offenses, dealing in narcotics, and obstructing an investigation.
During Sunday’s court hearing, the manslaughter suspicion was briefly removed from the case, but was quickly reinstated.
דריסת הילד בן ה-8 בת"א: לאחר שהוסר – סעיף ההריגה הוחזר להאשמות נגד הנהג הפוגע. בית משפט השלום האריך ב-5 ימים את מעצרו של אמיר אבו לבן. השופט: "החשד הסביר התחזק אף ביחס לנהיגה תחת השפעת סמים ויתר עבירות התעבורה"@ittaishick @daniel_elazar pic.twitter.com/ppGJ7RLAyM
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) October 13, 2019
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.
A review of the electronic devices found in Abu Laben’s car revealed text messages indicating that clients had purchased drugs from him, in addition to his fingerprint being found on the cocaine discovered at the scene.
A police representative said those findings significantly bolster the suspicion that Abu Laben had been distributing drugs and had attempted to hide the evidence.
He added that a drug test has indicated that there were traces of drugs in his blood, but that police were waiting for a second opinion.
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.
In addition to Margi’s death, 10-year-old cyclist Riad Abu Shariki was hit by a motorbike and killed on Route 443 in the center of the country.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.