The Be'er Sheva District Court yesterday sentenced two men to life in prison plus 15 years for the murder of a 16-year-old girl.

Israel Ganon and Michel Jeano were convicted of killing Shaked Shalhov in a drive-by shooting in Ashkelon in July 2003. The 15-year rider to their sentence came from charges of intentionally causing serious bodily harm and for conspiracy to commit a crime.

Each of the men was also fined NIS 258,000.

They had supposedly set out to kill an underworld figure, and as their car passed the car in which Shalhov riding with two friends, they shot and killed her and injured the other passengers.

The incident shocked the public and the police. Shalhov was considered the first innocent bystander to fall victim to underworld violence in Israel.

Shalhov's father, Amir, who together with her mother Ilana has been shuffling between courts for seven years, said yesterday's sentence gave them "a slight feeling of relief mixed with great sadness."

Shalhov said the case should not have taken so long, and that it was "not right, not logical, not clear by any measure."

"All we asked for was minimal justice," he said. "I have been running around from hearing to hearing for seven years. I want to go on with my life, but it keeps coming back to me."

The defendants' attorney, Avi Himi, said he accepted the judgment, but was considering an appeal.

"We must remember that these are the same judges that found the defendants innocent two years ago," he said. "This case will enter the national pantheon as one in which there will also remain doubt. We are now considering appealing to the High Court of Justice."

Last December, the High Court overturned Jeano and Ganon's initial acquittal by the Be'er Sheva District Court the year before. The main issue of contention in the petition to the High Court revolved around the interrogation of Yaron Senker, who had turned state's witness against the two.

Senker implicated them during interrogation, but when he took the witness stand, he refused to answer questions and did not repeat what he had said during questioning.