Police arrested a yeshiva head on suspicion of shooting and wounding one of his students a few months ago, the Jerusalem Magistrates' Court cleared for publication Tuesday.
Police say the rabbi used a motorcycle to approach the victim, fired at him, and when the victim began to run away fired again, wounding him. The rabbi then fled the scene, leaving the young man lying in his own blood.
Suspect brought before court (Photo: Noam Moscowitz)
"I am innocent. The truth will come out later," the rabbi, a newly religious man who has already served two years in prison for attempted murder, told the court.
Police plan to recommend the rabbi stand trial on charges of aggravated assault along with another suspect, Yitzhak Zohar, who they suspect aided him.
Police claim the yeshiva head maintains close ties with the mob. He established the Jerusalem yeshiva after being released from prison using donations. Many of its students are rehabilitated criminals or prisoners serving an alternative sentence.
The rabbi served two years in jail for attempted murder after the central witness for the prosecution died mysteriously just one day before he was scheduled to testify. The defendant bolted to Belgium, from whence he was extradited.
Police say that on January 9 the yeshiva head called Eliyahu Liberty, the 23-year old victim, to come and clear out his personal items from the school and leave it immediately. The two had fought a few days earlier.
Liberty arrived at the school along with two friends, and they were approached by two motorcyclists, one of whom masked. The masked man fired at Liberty, who began to run away. However, the motorcycle followed and the masked man fired additional shots, two of which hit Liberty in the leg.
When the victim fell, the man dismounted the bike and hit Liberty on the head with the butt of his rifle. Security footage filmed by a nearby bakery shows the two men riding off, leaving Liberty lying in his own blood.
The victim said later he was afraid to report the incident, and asked his friends to take him to his father's house in the north. However, when it became clear that he was losing too much blood his family evacuated him to a Haifa hospital.
Liberty, who also has an extensive criminal record including break-ins, blackmail, and robbery, refused to cooperate with the police investigation. However, police say they have collected incriminating evidence against the rabbi, including a bank transfer of over $7,000 to Liberty's family.