More than 13 years after the murder-suicide of actress and model Anat Elimelech and her former partner, writer David Afuta, the Jerusalem Family Court has decided: It was Afuta who killed Elimelech and then himself, not the other way around.
Judge Menachem Hacohen also found that Afuta's brother, Yosef, obstructed the investigation: As the first person on the scene, he transferred the pistol from Afuta's hand to Elimelech's.
The verdict was issued in a 2005 suit filed by Elimelech's family against David Afuta's estate, Yosef Afuta and the police. The family is seeking NIS 9.25 million, but Hacohen has not yet decided the amount of compensation, how it should be divided among the defendants or even if all the defendants bear responsibility.
The family wants compensation both for the loss of Elimelech's income and for the harm to her reputation and their feelings after initial media reports said she was suspected of killing Afuta. They said police bore partial responsibility both because their negligence allowed Yosef Afuta to reach the scene first and alter the evidence, and because they failed to stop the reports accusing Elimelech even after they realized she was the victim.
"The wealth of evidence I examined leads to the unequivocal and only conclusion that the male deceased is the one who took the life of the female deceased by one fatal shot to the body, and then put an end to his own life by two shots to the body," Hacohen wrote. "I also find that the scene was altered by defendant 5, the male deceased's brother, who took the pistol from the male deceased's right hand and placed it near the female deceased's right hand. The plaintiffs proved their story in full with solid evidence that the defendants were unable to shake."
Elimelech's father, Avi, said afterward that he was "extremely angry" with the police. "Everything the judge did today should have been done by the Israel Police 13 years ago," he said.
He was also furious at State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, then Jerusalem's district attorney, for closing the case against Yosef Afuta due to lack of public interest.
But he said he felt relief at the verdict, "because I promised my daughter on her grave that I would bring justice to light."
The police countered that it quickly concluded Afuta had killed Elimelech and "stuck to this position throughout the probe and even said so throughout the trial"; it was pathologists from the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir who suggested that Elimelech killed Afuta.
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