The prime suspect in the fatal 2009 shooting at a Tel Aviv LGBT youth centre has confessed that he carried out the shooting “because of the biblical edict to attack homosexuals.”
Hagai Felician, who was last month named the prime suspect of the shooting that left two dead and 11 injured, was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday in what the prosecution is indicating was a hate crime.
The indictment, which was filed by the Tel Aviv district prosecution, read: “Felician, motivated by feelings of anger and revenge, killed and tried to kill innocent young people… solely because they happened to be at the Bar Noar club.
“This despicable and criminal act caused the death of two people as well as grave damage to the minds and bodies of everyone who was in the club on the night of the murder.”
After a state informant turned him in, Felician confessed his actions to an undercover officer planted in his jail cell.
According to the indictment, Felician also told the undercover officer he had carried out the shooting “because of the biblical edict to attack homosexuals.”
“You have everything on me, you can give yourself a pat on the back,” Felician reportedly told investigators after he realised he had confessed to the shooting.
Police also have recordings of Felician in which he is reported to have said: “We did it smoothly, no one found out, it was quiet for four years.”
Felician told the informant that he had carried out the attack because his 15-year-old relative was sexually assaulted by a well-known gay activist. That activist has since been identified as Shaul Ganon, the founder of the Bar Noar club.
The relative, whose identity is under protection, is also suspected of involvement in the murders, while a third suspect, Tarlan Hankishayev, was released following their arrests in June.
Although he wasn’t charged with murder, the relative could still face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Hankishayev’s attorney said the court’s decision to release his client was proof he had nothing to do with the shooting.
The investigation into the attack was the most expensive in police history, with authorities questioning over 1,000 people.
Police last month had dropped charges of the shooting which treated it as a hate crime, citing it as a “personal attack”. In light of the new evidence however, the charges have been reinstated.
According to the indictment, on August 1, 2009, Felician, his face hidden by a mask, entered the Bar Noar on Tel Aviv’s Nahmani street with the intention of shooting Ganon and anyone else inside out of “hatred for their sexual preferences.”
After discovering that his target wasn’t on the premises, he opened fire on those present in the main common room of the centre, the indictment said.
He then allegedly continued to search through adjoining rooms, shooting anyone he found as his victims desperately tried to escape.
Ganon, the gay activist, was at first arrested by police in connection with sexual misconduct against the then-underage relative of the main suspect, but charges were dropped after he agreed to testify.