A Spanish journalist suspected of killing a gifted and up-and-coming ultra-Orthodox pianist in a Jerusalem hit-and-run accident had previously been deported from Israel, Channel 10 reported Wednesday.
The journalist, Julio de la Guardia, has worked as a foreign correspondent in Israel for many years for a series of Spanish outlets. He was kicked out of Israel in 2011 after a domestic dispute, the television report said, citing Foreign Ministry officials.
It was not immediately clear why de la Guardia, 51,was issued a new work visa and allowed to return to Israel.
During the investigation into the weekend accident, the TV report said, it was discovered that de la Guardia also worked for a Spanish-language Iranian TV company under an assumed name. This employment was for a period of a few months, The Times of Israel has learned.
The accident occurred some time after midnight Sunday. After hitting Chaim Tukachinsky, 31, a pianist, composer, and conductor, the suspect drove away and was arrested around an hour later. He was found to have a blood alcohol content three times the legal amount.
De la Guardia has reportedly confessed. On Monday night he was reportedly released to house arrest at the home of the Spanish consul, although other sources said Thursday that he is still in police custody.
Tukachinsky was killed at central Jerusalem’s Paris Square while walking back from the Western Wall on the first night of the Sukkot holiday.
De la Guardia told police he was being harassed by three Palestinians on motorbikes who were following his car, in which he had his three dogs, and that they were trying to corner him; he said he was trying to get away from them when the incident occurred, The Times of Israel has learned. He also said he stopped the car a short distance from the accident, not knowing exactly what had happened, but left quickly when locals approached him and he feared they would attack him. He later approached a police patrol vehicle with its lights flashing, and told the officers it was likely him that they were looking for.
Tukachinsky, formerly a resident of Kiryat Motzkin, had left his ultra-Orthodox yeshiva at the age of 18 in favor of attending a music academy in Jerusalem, where he excelled in his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
“I never understood why people raise an eyebrow when they look at me, a Haredi person playing piano,” he told the Ynet site in 2015. “For me, I’ve always been Haredi and always played piano. I strayed from the path [set for me] and I left my studies in the higher institutions of yeshiva to be a professional pianist.”
The son of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Tukachinsky said he received his first professional training at the age of 10.
“When my mother emigrated from the Soviet Union, she wasn’t allowed to take any money, only property, so she brought a piano,” he said. “I took quite an interest.”
Tukachinsky was buried on Tuesday.