Driver in fatal hit-and-run suspected of fleeing Israel to France
Driver calls police from Paris, says he plans to report for questioning; police ask Interpol for assistance with extradition.
A young woman was killed Friday in a hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv. The alleged driver has reportedly fled to Paris along with his passenger and the passenger's family.
The victim was identified as Lee Zeitouni, 25, of Kibbutz Neve Ur.
According to Israel Police officials, the alleged driver promised detectives during a phone call from Paris that he would report for questioning. Interpol has been asked to help with extradition proceedings. However, because Israel and France do not have an extradition treaty, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to bring the two suspects to Israel for trial unless they agree to return voluntarily.
Zeitouni was reportedly hit by a black BMW X6 at around 6:45 A.M. Friday morning while crossing the intersection of Pinkas and Weizmann streets. Zeitouni was reportedly on her way to work at a nearby gym, where she is employed as a Pilates instructor. She was thrown into the opposite lane upon impact and died instantly, according to reports.
Witnesses report seeing a male driver and at least one passenger in the car, which they say fled the scene.
Witnesses told police investigators dispatched to the scene that the car was headed toward the center of the city. People in the social protest tent encampment on Nordau Boulevard, not far from the intersection, reported seeing two men in a black car of the same distinctive model. They said one of the men got out of the car at the intersection of Nordau Boulevard and Yehoshua Bin-Nun Street and circled the vehicle, as if inspecting it for damage. At least two more witnesses reported seeing the car being driven erratically near Dizengoff Street.
The car, whose front end was apparently badly damaged, was found last night parked in the bowels of the underground parking garage serving the exclusive Rova Lev Ha'ir residential complex in central Tel Aviv. It is reportedly registered to Eric Roubi, 37, a French businessman who frequently spends time in Israel and who is said to have been living in Rova Lev Ha'ir with his wife and children for the past three months.
Police officers reportedly rushed to Roubi's apartment after the incident but found it empty; the lifeguard at the complex's pool said that the Roubis - together with Claude Isaac, a neighbor and close friend of Roubi - had left the building carrying suitcases.
After speaking with traffic police and examining other evidence, detectives say they determined that Roubi and Isaac had been drinking in Tel Aviv and then in Ramat Gan, leaving a bar there at around 6 A.M. Friday. They say Isaac had been driving Roubi's car when it hit and killed Zeitouni, and that the men decided to flee Israel immediately after the accident.
In a separate incident, three men died early Saturday morning in a head-on collision between two vehicles on Route 31 between Nevatim and Be'er Sheva. Police investigators believe Yusuf Ashtawa'i, a 16-year-old boy without a driver's license from a Bedouin encampment near Arad, attempted to overtake another car in a no-passing zone and collided with a car coming from the opposite direction. Ashtawa'i, his passenger - Rau'uf Ashtawa'i, a relative, 18 - and the driver of the second car - Attiya al-Atrash, 58, of Ramle - were all declared dead at the scene.