Lee Zeitouni
Claude Isaac Khayat
Suspect in Lee Zeitouni's death retracts confession
French national who admitted to driving car that killed Israeli woman in Tel Aviv says his friend is to blame for hit-and-run

A French national suspected of killing a young Israeli woman in a hit-and-run accident last year claims that he wasn't the one driving the car, Le Parisien reported Tuesday.


The French newspaper quoted Claude Isaac Khayat as saying that his friend, Eric Robic, was the driver on the morning of the accident. Khayat said that he only claimed responsibility for the incident because Robic promised him he would expunge his debt to an Israeli crime organization.


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The two men fled to France to avoid prosecution by Israeli authorities after crashing into Lee Zeitouni, 25, in Tel Aviv in September 2011.


AFP reported this past July that France launched a criminal investigation into Zeitouni's death. The two suspects could face manslaughter charges.


France has so far refused to extradite the two, saying French citizens should be tried in France.


Last week outgoing French ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot pledged to send the two men to jail.


"I felt for (Zeitouni's family)," Bigot said. "This is a real tragedy. But unfortunately, according to French law, we cannot extradite French citizens. We do, however, have a legal system by which we can judge them and send them to prison."


According to the Bigot, France contacted Zeitouni's family and the State of Israel, urging them to file a complaint with the French government against the perpetrators.


"For obvious emotional reasons, a complaint was filed only nine months after the accident, as the family realized that the men could not be extradited to Israel," Bigot added.




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