Court: No Change in Hit-and-run Indictment

The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday rejected the prosecution's request to change the indictment against Shalom Yemini and Shai Simon. Both are charged with running over and killing Meital Aharonson, and critically injuring her friend Mali Yazdi last October.

The original indictment accused Yemini of driving the SUV at the time of the hit-and-run accident. However, 10 days ago, the prosecution took the unusual step of requesting to change the charges, saying Simon was actually the driver.

The request change reflected new court testimony as to when the two men switched off behind the wheel.

While both have been charged with manslaughter, the question of who was driving at the time of the accident could significantly affect the sentencing. Therefore, the trial has revolved around the identity of the driver.

Judge Zvi Gurfinkel decided that since the prosecution had finished presenting its evidence, the prosecutor had no advantage over the court in terms of deciding whether to correct the indictment. Making such a change would keep the court from deciding who was the driver, the judge said.

The original indictment was based on Simon's testimony to police: He said he was driving the car when the two fled police at the Tel Aviv port, but that the two switched seats before the accident.

Yemini has refused to testify, and his version is still unknown. Nonetheless, his lawyer stated during the trial that Simon was the driver.

Aharonson's mother, Liora, praised the decision: "It was a very wise and proper decision. In practice it leaves both options open," she said, suggesting that both could be convicted. "As far as I am concerned, they were both there, both have been charged, both killed my daughter, neither of them is innocent," she added.