State Witness in Tel Aviv Gay Shooting Case Disappears From Safe House

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The state witness in the trial over the 2009 deadly shooting rampage at a Tel Aviv gay youth center disappeared from his safe house on Thursday, without coordinating his exit with police.

The security guards charged with his safekeeping had little information, unable to inform police of when or where he went. Large security forces were deployed in the area to search for him.

The witness was recently relocated to this current apartment after Channel 10 revealed to the public where he was being held.

The entire case rests on his testimony, and he has been classified by police as a "fragile" component that must be kept from harm. He is meant to be under surveillance 24 hours a day.

Police are already furious at the witness's behavior: He had been asked to keep a low profile, but instead arranged meetings in the safe house, held telephone conversations, and used Facebook. Police now fear that he will be used by external figures interested in getting his to reverse his testimony.

Details of the 4-year-old unsolved case unfolded earlier this month, when police revealed that they had arrested three suspects allegedly involved in the deadly attack. Two people were killed in the shooting, Liz Trubeshi, 16, and youth counselor Nir Katz, 27.

Shaul Ganon, one of the founders of the Barnoar youth center, was arrested shortly thereafter for allegedly obstructing the investigation. He was released from jail Friday morning and placed on house arrest for two weeks.

Police also suspect Gonen of having had sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy, and based on the state witness's testimony, believe that he may have been the target of the murder suspects.

The police believe the boy told his relative, Hagai Felician, that Ganon raped him, prompting Felician, a man named Tarlan Hankishayev and a third man, the state witness who disappeared on Thursday, to attack the center in an attempt to target Ganon for revenge.

The state witness in the Tel Aviv gay center shooting case.Credit: Screen shot