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The evidentiary stage of the Rose Pizem murder trial began in the Petah Tikva District Court yesterday.

The 4-year-old's body was found in a suitcase in the Yarkon River last September. Her mother, French national Marie-Charlotte Pizem, and her grandfather Ronny Ron, who is romantically involved with Pizem, have been charged in the murder.

At the beginning of the hearing, Ron's lawyer asked that his client be allowed to retract a confession to killing the girl, explaining that although he admitted to causing her death, it was through negligence.

The prosecution tried to link Pizem to the alleged murder. A prosecutor had previously acknowledged that her role in the girl's death was not clear, and the indictment against Pizem and Ron is vague regarding who bears the most responsibility.

The indictment alleges that one or both of the defendants procured the suitcase in which Rose's body was found, and then caused her death in an unknown manner and location. One or both put Rose in the suitcase, either dead or alive, and Ron threw the suitcase into the river.

The first witness at yesterday's hearing was a police detective who came to the family's home looking for Rose. When he entered the house and asked where Rose was, Ron said he would not let him see her because of a family dispute in France, the detective said. Pizem implied that Rose was at preschool, he added.

The second witness was Ron's childhood friend Naor Ben-Ephraim, who was his employer at the time of his arrest. Ben-Ephraim testified that Ron's mother called to say that Ron was refusing to let him see Rose and that she was concerned. Ron told him that he would never let her see the girl, Ben-Ephraim said. He also recalled Ron telling him, "If you want to get rid of something, you throw it in the Yarkon."

Another friend of Ron's, Lior Maslawi, testified that when the police came looking for Rose, Pizem called him and asked him to bring her his daughter. When he said she was at preschool, Pizem asked him for a neighbor's girl.

The final witness was a babysitter, who said Ron heaped attention on his daughters with Pizem but mostly ignored Rose. She once saw Rose with a bruise under her eye, she said.