Case Against Driver in Gal Beck Traffic Fatality Will Not Be Reopened

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Gal Beck - boy killed in 2005 car accident. Credit: Channel 1 /YouTube

The state prosecutor decided Thursday not to reopen a case against a driver who killed a teenager in a car accident 11 years ago. Shai Nitzan said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the woman with manslaughter and that the statute of limitations had expired on other possible charges.

Gal Beck, 16, was killed while riding his motor scooter through a north Tel Aviv intersection in July 2005. The case was originally closed primarily due to a cabdriver’s eyewitness testimony that the driver entered the intersection on a green light while Beck crossed illegally on red. But last July, following a Channel 1 TV news report in which the cabdriver recanted her original testimony, Beck’s parents asked prosecutors to reopen the case.

In his 50-page decision, Nitzan acknowledged that the original investigation was flawed. Police should have questioned the cabdriver more closely and tried harder to find other eyewitnesses, he wrote.

Protesters spelling out 'We are all Gal Beck' in Hebrew in Tel Aviv, July 18, 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Nonetheless, he added, doing so probably wouldn’t have changed the original decision to close the case due to lack of evidence.

Police also originally failed to discover that the driver was drunk, because at that time alcohol tests weren’t mandatory in fatal accidents. The fact her blood alcohol was three times the legal limit emerged only last year through an examination of her hospital records. But the hospital lab tests can’t serve as evidence in a criminal trial, since numerous rules of criminal procedure were violated.

Nitzan said the cabdriver’s statements to Channel 1 seemed inconsistent and vague when the full tape was reviewed. Moreover, she went back to her original story in two text messages sent immediately after the interview. The only person who consistently said Beck crossed the intersection on a green light was the friend riding with him, and his testimony contradicted that of other witnesses, Nitzan wrote.

Several witnesses did say the driver was speeding, and the original accident investigator reached the same conclusion. But there’s no actual evidence of this that would stand up in court, Nitzan said.

Finally, Nitzan stressed that all the mistakes made by the police were innocent. No evidence was found to support allegations that they deliberately tried to protect the well-connected driver, whose identity cannot be published.

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