Car Owner in T.A. Hit-and-run Freed

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court yesterday decided to release from custody the owner of the car involved in the hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv that last week killed Meital Aharonson, 27.

Victor Lavi was not in his Land Cruiser SUV at the time of the crash, but was detained by authorities for allegedly obstructing justice in the case. The court postponed Lavi's release - set to last five days - until today, to allow the police time to appeal the decision.

Lavi, 22, was allegedly forced out of his jeep before the accident and was not in the vehicle when it occurred. He has a minor criminal record.

Police suspect that either Shai Simon, 27, or Shalom Yemini, 31, were driving at the time of the crash. Yemini turned himself into police several hours after his photo was released to the public.

The court Monday extended Yemini's remand by 10 days, under suspicion that he had been behind the wheel during the accident. Yemini's lawyer, however, has submitted eye-witness accounts, which maintain Shimoni was driving.

Even before the arrest and questioning of Yemini, who previously served five years in prison for manslaughter, police surmised Simon was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.

He was arrested at his Ramat Gan home over the weekend. But at Yemini's remand hearing on Monday, police said he had not been ruled out as the driver. Investigators now believe Simon and Yemini switched places when fleeing the police at the Tel Aviv Port.