'Jewish terrorist' trial to begin Wednesday
Yaakov (Jack) Teitel, accused of murdering two Palestinians and committing series of criminal offenses, to stand before three-judge panel at Jerusalem District Court. Families of two of his victims plan to attend ever hearing, 'see him right before out eyes'
"My brother is gone, but Teitel must receive the punishment he deserves. Such a person should remain in prison all his life," says Hani Balbisi, whose brother Samir – a Palestinian taxi driver – was allegedly murdered by Teitel in 1997.
The trial will be open to the public and will be held in front of Judges Zvi Segal, Moshe Drori and Moshe Hacohen. Justice Segal will read the indictment to Teitel and ask the defendant to confirm that he understands it.
The defendant's representation has yet to be finalized, and it is unclear who will be representing him in the court. Therefore, there is a good chance he will ask the court to delay the rest of the hearings.
Teitel was charged about a month ago with two cases of pre-meditated murder, three cases of attempted murder, carrying a weapon, manufacturing a weapon, and incitement to violence. Overall, the indictment included 14 charges against Teitel.
Teitel, 37, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, was indicted for the murder of Palestinian taxi driver, Samir Balbisi, in June 1997, and the murder of a Palestinian shepherd just a few months later. He was also charged with laying an explosive device next to a Palestinian home near the West Bank settlement of Eli.
The indictment also claimed that he attempted to poison Palestinian residents of an isolated village near Eli. He was also indicted for attempting to murder Ami Ortiz, the son of a Messianic family living in Ariel, when he sent an explosive device disguised as a Purim gift to their home. In addition, he is charged with rigging a bomb next to Prof. Zeev Sternhell's home.
After the indictment was filed, Teitel told reporters in court, "It was a pleasure and honor to serve my God. God is proud of what I have done. I have no regrets."
'We have to be there'
Relatives of two of Teitel's victims – the Balbisi and Ortiz families – are expected to attend Wednesday's hearing. "I will come there and ask him, 'Why did you do it? What did my brother do to you?'" Hani Balbisi told Ynet. "Such a person is a criminal, and God will pay him for what he's done."
In the Ortiz family as well, emotions are high ahead of the trial. "It's not easy," says Ami's mother, Leah. "We are trying to prepare ourselves to see him right before our eyes. It will be the first time."
Leah Ortiz believes attending the trial is a moral obligation. "We have to be there," she says, "to defend the victims' rights. We want to be there."
Leah's husband David will also attend the hearing, but their son Ami, who was injured by an explosive device allegedly planted by Teitel, will not be joining them. "I'm giving him the option to make his own decision, and he's not ready," the mother says. "It still pains him mentally, and he still has physical problems as well."
The Ortiz family members – Ami, Leah and David (Archive photo: Gil Yohanan)
She has yet to devote any thought to the meeting with Teitel's family members, and especially his wife Rivka. "We want a connection, but I don’t know, it'll be kind of weird talking to her."
Ortiz doesn’t accept the claims made by Teitel's relatives, that they were surprised by the revelation of his actions. "How can someone's wife not know what is happening with her husband, after living with him for seven years? I don’t believe it."
The Ortiz and Balbisi families' lawyer, Attorney Yossi Graiver, told Ynet that his clients plan to take advantage of the emotionally charged meeting with Teitel in order to ask him why he decided to ruin their lives with his actions.
According to Graiver, the families plan to "make an appearance" at every hearing, to exhaust their legal rights as victims of an offense in the criminal procedure, and to ensure that Teitel received the maximum penalty for the acts attributed to him.
Tal Rabinovsky contributed to this report