Six years after Shaked Shalhov was killed by an errant bullet fired during a botched mob hit, Be'er Sheva District Court on Thursday acquitted the two suspects, Yisrael Ganon and Michel Jeano, of murder.
The judges ruled that the evidence in the case did not prove beyond all doubt that the two men were connected to the murder.
"There was no justice here," said the 16-year-old girl's mother, Ilana Shalhov. "I could not agree to any plea bargain. The fact that they offered us a deal says everything, but they were given lawyers who brought about their acquittal."
"This is almost as difficult a day as when they informed us of the murder," Amir Shalhov, Shaked's father, said. "This is difficult for us to stomach."
Shaked Shalhov, a 16-year-old high-school student from Ashkelon, was shot and killed on July 20, 2003. On that night, Shalhov and her girlfriend were picked up by a male acquaintance known to both of them, Yaniv Revah, in his white Suzuki.
At the intersection of Begin and Rabin Streets in Ashkelon, another vehicle bypassed the Suzuki. An individual inside the bypassing vehicle then opened fire in the direction of the Suzuki, killing Shalhov and wounding the other two passengers.
The incident shocked the public and the police, considering that Shalhov was the first innocent bystander to be gunned down in the crossfire of a war between criminal organizations.
Police had suspected the shots that killed Shalhov were aimed at Revah, an acquaintance of the girl's who was involved in drug and property offenses.
However, the investigation later revealed that the murder was connected to a power struggle between two criminal organizations over illegal sand-digging operations in the Ashkelon area.
The two suspects had allegedly been asked to assassinate Shalom Dumrani, thought to be the head of the rival criminal group. Dumrani had been a passenger in the same car as Shalhov, but got out of the vehicle before the shooting.
The first break in the case came in October 2003, when the suspects had allegedly attempted to kidnap Revah, the owner of the car in which Shalhov was shot, in an effort to prevent him from tying them to the attempted hit.
Investigators who had been tracking the two suspects foiled the abduction attempt, and the two were arrested and jailed on kidnapping charges.
The second break came in early 2004 when Yaron Senker, an escaped prisoner was caught at Ben-Gurion International Airport trying to flee Israel. In his testimony to police, Senker also connected the two with the attempted murder of Dumrani and another friend.
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