Israeli judge extends remand of activist suspected of obstructing probe of gay center shooting
Tel Aviv judge refuses to lift gag order placed on identity of man implicate in Barnoar case, blasts media for referring to detainee as 'senior figure in gay' community; 'this term conjures image of malicious group, like Elders of Zion.'
The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Sunday extended the remand of a man suspected of obstructing the investigation into the 2009 shooting rampage that resulted in the deaths of two people at Barnoar, a gay youth center in Tel Aviv.
Judge Ido Druyan ordered that the suspect's name remain under a gag order, but criticized the police, the defense attorney and the media for the way they have handled the case in recent days vis-à-vis the public.
The suspect, who was taken into custody on Wednesday, is said to be an LGBT activist and has been referred to in some reports as a "senior figure in the gay community."
"It's unclear who came up with the term 'senior member of the community' – a term that conjures an image of a secret and malicious group, like the Elders of Zion, which has senior and junior figures who take part in an organization that is kept hidden from the public," the judge wrote.
He urged everyone concerned to refer to the suspect as an "activist" or a "known figure in the community" in order to eliminate the unfavorable connotation.
"It must be remembered that this is a sector that remains vulnerable, that is still hurting," Druyan wrote. "It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to an attack such as this."
The suspect's remand was extended until Tuesday.
Representatives of the media petitioned Druyan to lift the gag order imposed on the suspect's identity and his role in the case, but the judge ruled in favor of the defense and the police, who have asked that these details be kept under wraps at least until Tuesday.
Druyan noted, however, that he had come upon a "quite shocking report," published by what presented itself to be a police website, which included full details about the suspects in the case – including their ages. The report was signed "courtesy of the Tel Aviv district spokesman," presumably an attempt to hide the author's identity, even though the writer's name could be easily found within the text, the judge said.
In addition to the activist, the police apprehended three people suspected of involvement in the attack. The details in case, save for the fact that the arrests have been made, remain under a gag order.