Lautin Murder Trial Put Off to June

The evidentiary stage in the trial of Margarita Lautin, who was murdered in a botched mob hit on a Bat Yam beach in July, was postponed to next June, the Tel Aviv District Court decided yesterday. The trial was supposed to start yesterday.

Lautin, 31, of Yehud, was sitting on Bat Yam's beach with her family and two children, aged 2 and 5, in July, when she was shot. The assailants were apparently targeting Rami Amira, a member of the alleged Abergil crime syndicate who was sitting nearby, and Lautin was caught in the crossfire.

Lautin's family, who came to court yesterday to hear defendants Ronen Ben-Adi and Shimon Sabah respond to the charges against them, were dismayed to hear of the trial's postponement due to complications in the case.

"Like everything else in this country, everything moves slowly. Everything is important except the victims," said Alex Lautin, who came with his mother and children to court.

"This is hard for the whole family. We have to go through it all again every time. It doesn't let us resume normal life. They're being considerate to the criminals rather than to the innocent," he said.

"Every minute is suffering. We have no life," his mother, Ina Mirzelikov said. "The police, who were supposed to protect her, failed."

Ben-Adi, 39, and Sabah, 41, both from Bat Yam, are charged with Lautin's premeditated murder and with conspiring and attempting to murder Amira and Motti Hassin, who were on the beach that day.

Some two weeks after the murder, police arrested Itzik Abergil, head of one of Israel's largest alleged crime syndicates, on suspicion of involvement in Lautin's murder and in the assassination attempt on two members of his organization - Motti Hassin and Rami Amira.

Defense attorney Motti Katz said "the hearing [procedure] was stuck because the evidence is complicated. It includes weapons that required tests in laboratories overseas to get results. This means that quite a few doubts have been raised in this case."

Dr. Dana Pugach, head of the Noga Center for Victims of Crime in Ono Academic College, said "the family's pain and fears are understandable. Those behind the murder have yet to be caught and brought to trial."

"The murder was committed on July 28 and the trial will start almost a year later. The family will live for years in the shadow of the trial without being able to recover. Nobody is considering this aspect of the legal footdragging," said Pugach, who is advising the family in the course of the judicial proceedings.