• France's news in English

Lawyer attacked in Paris hit-and-run trial

AFP · 28 Nov 2014, 09:05

Published: 28 Nov 2014 09:05 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

An unidentified man punched Regis Meliodon, a lawyer for one of the defendants, in the face during a break in the trial and then fled.

The trial will pick up again on Wednesday with statements from the defence and prosecutors.

The assault underscored the strong emotions surrounding the 2011 tragedy, which sparked outrage in Israel after the pair fled to France.

Eric Robic, who has confessed to being behind the wheel at the time, faces charges of aggravated manslaughter and not providing aid to a person in distress.

He could be jailed for 10 years and fined 150,000 euros ($187,000) if convicted.

The passenger, Claude Khayat, stands accused of the lesser charge of not providing aid to a person in distress and faces a possible 75,000-euro fine.

Lee Zeitouni, a 25-year-old pilates instructor who was crossing the road to get to work on the morning of September 16, 2011, was killed when she was hit by the 4X4 driven by Robic.

Witnesses said the car was travelling at approximately 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour) in a zone where the maximum speed limit was half that.

The two men had just left a nightclub where they had consumed alcohol, according to witnesses.

They did not stop after the accident and immediately fled to France, prompting a huge outcry in Israel.

Pressure mounted on France to return the men to Israel to face trial, but France does not extradite its citizens outside the European Union.

Robic testified in court that he had drunk vodka and whisky that night and was driving above the speed limit.

He said he never saw the victim coming because his view was obscured by a truck but he felt the shock and "saw the body flying" in his rearview mirror.

Co-defendant Khayat said he was a "coward" for fleeing the scene. "But I was afraid," he told the court.

Both men apologised to the victim's family.

Story continues below…

Then French president Nicolas Sarkozy vowed the family would get justice if a trial took place in France but stood firm against extradition, sparking a diplomatic spat with Tel Aviv.

The victim's family, who has travelled to France for the trial, would have preferred it to have taken place in Israel, their lawyer said.

"But this is better than nothing and they have arrived with confidence," added the lawyer, Gilles-William Goldnadel.

He described Robic as a "habitual road criminal" who showed "rare cowardice" in deciding to flee the scene.

The lawyer said it was "fortunate" that courts have been harsher on what he termed "road criminals" in recent years.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available