ATV driver who killed girl in 2007 convicted
Assad Shibli, who wildly drove into northern community of Kfar Tavor on Yom Kippur, fatally hit 10-year-old Tal Zino, convicted of manslaughter. Passenger Muhammad Shlibi, convicted of abetting abandonment of victim. Assad's father: 'Verdict is racist. We will appeal'
The Nazareth District Court on Wednesday convicted 22-year-old Assad Shibli of manslaughter in the death of 10-year-old Tal Zino on the eve of Yom Kippur two years ago.
Shibli was driving an ATV in Kfar Tavor in northern Israel when he hit and killed Zino.
The court acquitted 21-year-old Muhammad Shibli, who was a passenger in the backseat of the ATV driven by Assad, but convicted him of abetting Assad in the abandonment of a victim.
Zino's mother, Haya was disappointed with the verdict, and said, "As far as we are concerned, what happened was murder. It was a terror attack. It's difficult for me to think that they will go on with their lives while (Tal) is gone.
"I expected the passenger to be convicted of manslaughter as well. This will not bring Tal back, but I hope the driver gets 20 years in prison."
From left: Assad and Muhammad Shibli in court (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Yehiel Zino, Tal's father said, "I am not surprised. I imagined the other defendant would be acquitted."
Assad's father, Nassim, said that he will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. According to him, "The judge's decision is racist."
Nissim Shibli said, "There are a lot of traffic accidents in the State of Israel. I don't understand why they media is making a bigger deal out of this than it really is. True, it is a tragedy, but all this conduct creates hate between Arabs and Jews. We have been neighbors for 60 years, and we don't need to be the victim."
In September 2007, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Tal Zino left her house in Kfar Tavor on bicycle. Her father was in temple, and her mother was about to head out with her younger son.
Muhammad and Assad Shibli, residents of a nearby village, decided to take advantage of the empty roads and drove their vehicle recklessly, dealing Zino a lethal blow.
While giving his verdict, Judge Yitzhak Cohen said he did not believe the defendants' claims that stones were thrown at them, and that they only wished to withdraw money from an ATM.
"They knew that it was Yom Kippur and what that means. The driver ignored the people walking on the road, sped up and drove into a crowd of people," the judge said, "He did not heed the residents' pleas and continued with his reckless driving."
According to his indictment, Assad Shibli was caught wildly driving an ATV near a gas station in Kfar Tavor a few weeks before the incident, and was warned by a Border Guard volunteer. In response to the warning, Shibli said, "You will see what we'll do to you on Yom Kippur."
The indictment also alleged that "the defendants came to Kfar Tavor intentionally, with the synagogue as their target in order to create riots, knowing the customs of Yom Kippur regarding the seizure of vehicle traffic in the Jewish town, and endangered the pedestrians in the area."
The judge said there was no evidence to convict Muhammad Shibli of manslaughter, but wrote in the verdict, "He fled the scene of the accident without giving aid or reporting the incident. I reject his claim that he tried to flee the anger of the mob."
Assad Shibli was also convicted of abandonment of a victim and endangerment.
Immediately after the incident residents of Kfar Tavor said it was a nationalistically motivated murder. Zino's parents also said in an interview with Ynet that their daughter was "killed in the first vehicular terror attack".
The defendants were initially investigated for murder, but the prosecution later decided to charge them with manslaughter, since there was no proof the killing was premeditated.