The alleged killer of an Arab taxi driver who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in 2007 is unfit to stand trial, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled after reviewing the results of the suspect's psychiatric evaluation Thursday.
Julian Soufir, a 26-year-old Jewish immigrant from France, confessed to killing Taysir Karaki, 35, from Beit Hanina, north of the capital. Police said their investigation revealed that Soufir, whose family lives in Netanya, went to Jerusalem in May 2007 to find an Arab taxi driver to murder.
Several months ago the court rejected the state's request that Soufir's mental health be evaluated by a special panel of experts.
"We'll read the decision and study it," said prosecution attorney Anat Ben-Ze'ev. "At the end of the day this means that he will be hospitalized and locked away in a psychiatric institution. It will be impossible to indict him because the court decided that he was insane at the time of the murder."
Members of Karaki's family protested Thursday's decision, noting Soufir's confession.
"We won't take this lying down," said Siham Karaki, the slain driver's sister. "We will return to the court even if it takes 10 more years. He was released only because he's Jewish and my brother was Arab."
In it's decision, the court said that Soufir displayed mental health problems as early when he was 14, in France, when he would carry around a knife, threatening to kill anyone who threatened to harm him or his mother.
Speculations regarding Soufir's mental state began after he exhibited seemingly irrational behavior during his first appearance in court.
Soufir, who had recently become religious, appeared in court without a head covering and continued to make faces and clap his hands, sticking out his tongue at reporters.
Police discovered the murder almost by chance after they stopped Soufir and his brother while they were walking down the middle of a Tel Aviv street early in the morning in May 2007.
Soufir confessed to the murder as soon as police asked him for identification. Police said the victim's throat had been slit a few hours before the body was found.
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