It has been cleared for publication that the prominent member of the LGBT community who was arrested on suspicion of committing an offence which allegedly provided the motive for the 2009 gay center shooting is Shaul Ganon. He was released to house for two weeks on Friday.
According to the police, Ganon sodomized one of the suspects in the shooting, at the time 15-years-old, and this assault likely served as the motive for the murder.
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Ganon's lawyer, Attorney Ran Alon from the Public Defender's Office emphatically denied his client's connection to the shooting. "My client did nothing in his life which he knew could lead to such a heinous crime. His good friend Nir Katz was murdered," he noted.
Ganon near Barnoar center after shooting (Photo: Amit Magal)
Ganon denied any connection to the case. "I have nothing to do with the murder case," he said Friday.
He further added that "malicious rumors" spread by "concerned parties" have no bearing on reality.
Ganon, 49, is considered one of the prominent members of the Israeli National LGBT Task Force and founder and former manager of the Barnoar gay youth center where the shooting took place.
He is currently employed at an institution aiding young offenders and lives alone.
In the past 20 years he has worked with gay youths who struggled with their sexual identity, were abused, rejected by their families or were at risk of turning to crime. He has worked with both Jewish and Palestinian teens.
Receiving mayor's prize
In 2005, Ganon founded the Barnoar center in Tel Aviv's Nachmani street as a place where gay youths could find support and protection. In 2009 he was awarded the mayor's prize for outstanding volunteer.
Ganon was not at the center at the time of the shooting but rushed to the scene after learning of the murder. "It looked like a terror attack," he said of the scene at the time.
Ganon's arrest left all those who knew him in utter shock.
"He was a father figure who was always there to lend an ear," said one of his acquaintances. "But he always made sure to draw a clear line. He never did anything more than give a hug. It's not someone who was ever involved with minors, he always made sure to create a certain distance between himself and the teens he helped."
Ganon with his mother after being released to house arrest (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Lilach Zonenstein, one of Ganon's longtime friends, said: "He saved people who were in life threatening situations countless times. There's absolutely no way he concealed any information from the police. The youths at the Barnoar were like his kids."
Police are looking into the possibility that Ganon was aware that someone wanted to target him but failed to mention this to investigators after the shooting.
With his sister in court (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
"I don’t believe Shaul had any idea it was related to him, at least not at first," said one of his acquaintances. "I'm sure he didn't make the connection between what he was allegedly involved with and this terrible murder."
Chen Langer, who was injured in the attack, said he was completely shocked at the allegations against Ganon. "To say I was surprised would be an understatement. These allegations are totally bizarre. I've known Shaul for years, he's the Barnoar's spiritual father. A lovely man."
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