Suspect in Hit-and-run Could Be Target of Underwold Assassination

Shai Simon, the suspect in the hit and run death of Meital Aharonson in Tel Aviv three weeks ago, was brought to the Tel Aviv District Court yesterday for a remand hearing under heavy security coordinated by the Prisons Service elite Nahshon unit.

The heavy guard was prompted by intelligence reports that criminal elements were planning to kill Simon, now considered one of the underworld's primary targets.

The police and Prisons Service have taken steps to protect Simon, said a legal system source. Shalom Yemini, 31, and Simon, 27, both of Ramat Gan, are charged with manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, abandoning an injured person, drunk driving, destroying evidence and running a red light. Yemini, a convicted criminal in the past, is also charged with threats and operating an auto without a drivers license.

Since Simon provided the testimony implicating Yemini as the driver of the SUV, Simon was transfered to the Ashmoret prison and held under strict conditions of separation from other prisoners out of fear for his life. However, official fears have recently become more serious as police intelligence sources have received concrete information on plans to kill Simon to prevent him from testifying against Yemini, as well as in revenge for his providing information to police.

The court extended Simon's remand for another month after Simon engaged a new attorney who told the court he had taken over the case only two days earlier and needed time to examine the evidence.

As in previous court sessions, Aharonson's family and the family of Mali Yazdi, who was also seriously injured in the hit and run, were in court yesterday. When Simon entered the courtroom the family raised pictures of Aharonson. The two mothers openly wept following the hearing: "They took away the oxygen in our lives," said Liora Aharonson, Meital's mother, after the session. "Their parents should be ashamed that they raised murderers," she added.