Drama in the Barnoar investigation: The State's witness in the 2009 gay center shooting case has escaped a police safe house where he stayed under police protection. He was last seen in his bed at 2 am.
Hundreds of police officers are searching for him. It is estimated he is still in the Tel Aviv area. Checks conducted at the Ben Gurion Airport and in border crossing indicate he did not leave the country.
The witness used the bedroom window in the safe house to escape. According to his agreement with the police, he was allowed to sleep alone but no less than six detectives were meant to watch him at all times, some in the safe house and others outside it. "It's a huge failure," a high-ranking police officer said.
Police switched safe houses after a Channel 10 had discovered it. On Thursday morning, police discovered he had escaped from the safe house without anyone noticing it.
Attorney Shai Forer, who represents one of the suspects, said: "This doesn't surprise me. We've said before that the police are counting on a liar and they are the ones who created all this mess."
Attorney Moshe Sherman, who represents the main suspect, Hagai Felician, also criticized the police. "This is one of the biggest cases in the last decade and this is how they conduct themselves? Even if I had lied to the police I would have escaped."
State witness becomes fugitive
Very early on, police realized they are dealing with a problematic witness who had spoken to the press, texted about the case with his friends and posted messages on Facebook.
The key player responsible for breaking the story of the Barnoar murders kept the secret for three-and-a-half years. He knew the plans of the murder suspects: To avenge the sexual assault of one of them, who was a boy, and to help bring the plan to fruition.
After the massacre everyone kept silent. A long time went by before the accomplice broke – and decided to take his revenge. "Why? Because they screwed me for a lot of money. They did not look out for me in jail. Besides, I'm from the (gay) community and it's very hard for me," the man who became state’s witness said to his acquaintances.
Great embarrassment for Tel Aviv District Police (Photo: Motti Kimnchi)
The man is a criminal who was in prison several times, for violent crimes, among other things. A week and a half before the murder, when he was still in prison, he was approached by two of the suspects, who had cooperated with him in previous crimes.
They told him about what allegedly happened to one of them: A well-known activist in the gay community had sexually assaulted him. They asked for information regarding the man, and the witness told them that he would be at Barnoar that evening – August 1, 2009. "I thought maybe they would beat him up," he said in a recording obtained by Ynet.
Two days after the murder, the witness was questioned himself, as he used to frequent the Barnoar, and even had confrontations there with people. His name came up in police inquiries, and detectives went to question him in jail.
He did not say anything specific, but he claims that he did leave them with a hint – you should focus on the community activist. It is unclear whether investigators really listened to what he was saying. The interpretation of this, regardless, took much longer.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop