The evidentiary stage of the Rose Pizem murder case began Sunday at the Petah Tikva District Court.
Four-years-old Rose went missing in May 2008. Her body was found after several months' extensive search, stuffed in a suitcase submerged in the waters of Hayarkon River. Her mother, Marie-Charlotte Renault, and grandfather, Ronny Ron, were indicted for her murder.
First to take the stand was Netanya Police detective Raffi Shmilovitz, who was assigned to the case as soon as the child was reported missing. He told the court the Renault and Ron were reluctant to cooperate with the investigation, telling the police that "this is a family feud. The family keeps harassing us and they want to take her away."
The detective added that Ron said the child was at school and asked the police to leave them alone. He also testified that when the police came to search the two's house a second time, they found only a few items of clothing belonging to the girl.
Next to take the stand is Lior Maslawi, a family friend. He told reporters that he new both defendants well, and never noticed any kind of maltreatment or abuse of Rose: "Ronny was always saying what a beautiful girl she was. He was so proud of her."Renault and Ron were arrested in late August 2008, several weeks before Rose's remains were found. Both pled not guilty to the charge of murder, but according to the case file, Ron admitted to hitting Rose while they were riding in his car, rendering her unconscious. Thinking she was dead, he put her body in a suitcase and dumped her in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon River.
Ron later recanted his confession, offering several versions to Rose's disappearance. The suitcase was eventually found, just yards away from the original dumping site.
Ron claims that he never meant to kill Rose, and that the incident was a tragic accident. Renault maintains that she had no knowledge of Ron's actions and that in fact, had no idea her daughter was missing, since he told her he sent the child to a French boarding school.
Several weeks ago, the court granted a motion by the defense to have Ron undergo a psychiatric evaluation, to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. The results of the evaluation are still pending.