Lawyer Punched Stopping Lethal Hit-And-Run Trial

November 27, 2014  

The Paris trial of two Frenchmen accused of killing a young Israeli woman in a hit-and-run incident in Tel Aviv was halted Thursday after a defense lawyer was hit during a break in proceedings.

An unidentified man punched Regis Meliodon, a lawyer for one of the defendants, in the face during a break in the trial and then fled. Reportedly the attack occurred in a restroom at the courthouse.

French police have yet to identify the assailant who struck Meliodon. The trial will pick up again on Wednesday with statements from the defense and prosecutors, and a ruling is expected to be given soon.

The incident underscored the strong emotions surrounding the 2011 tragedy, which sparked outrage in Israel after the pair fled to France.

The two suspects on trial are Eric Robic and Claude Khayat. Robic has already confessed to driving the 4X4 that killed Lee Zeitouni, a 25-year-old pilates instructor who was crossing the road to get to work on the morning of September 16, 2011.

According to witnesses, Robic’s car was hurtling at 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in a zone where the maximum speed limit was half that. The two men had just left a nightclub where they had consumed alcohol, according to witnesses.

“I drank, but I wasn’t drunk,” said Robic on trial, denying charges that he ran a red light. “I saw the body. I was shocked. I had to stop. I don’t know why I continued home. I was afraid. If we had stopped the police wouldn’t have listened to us. It isn’t our country, we don’t speak the language.”

Robic faces ten years in jail and a 150,000 euros ($187,000) if convicted of aggravated manslaughter. Khayat was a passenger in the car, and is accused of not providing aid to a person in distress and faces a possible 75,000-euro (over $93,000) fine.

Not only did the pair not stop after the accident, they immediately fled back home to France, creating a fury in Israel. Pressure mounted on France to return the men to Israel to face trial, but France does not extradite its citizens outside the European Union.

Then French president Nicolas Sarkozy vowed the family would get justice if a trial took place in France but stood firm against extradition, sparking a diplomatic spat with Tel Aviv.

The victim’s family, who has travelled to France for the trial, would have preferred it to have taken place in Israel, their lawyer said. “But this is better than nothing and they have arrived with confidence,” added the lawyer, Gilles-William Goldnadel.

He described Robic as a “habitual road criminal” who showed “rare cowardice” in deciding to flee the scene. The lawyer said it was “fortunate” that courts have been harsher on what he termed “road criminals” in recent years.

Robic’s lawyer, Francoise Cotta, said her client “of course” regretted the incident and added: “I hope that justice can be served in a calm fashion.”

Meliodon, Khayat’s lawyer who was punched on Thursday, said his client “was looking forward to this moment, to offer explanations and apologize to the family.”

Protect and Support Israel by Sharing our Articles

Similar posts

Leave a Reply

© 2007-2022 Solve Israel's Problems. All Rights Reserved