Court Frees Gas Technician Suspected in Blast

Investigation indicates that the Jerusalem blast did not occur in the apartment to which he had been called.

Gil Ronen ,

Graves of the Tufan family
Graves of the Tufan family
Flash 90

Jerusalem District Judge Rafi Carmel decided Tuesday to release from custody the gas technician who was arrested on suspicion of negligently causing a deadly blast in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood Sunday night. The technician will be freed from jail at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and will not have to spend another night in lockup.

Judge Carmel determined that the investigation does not necessitate keeping the technician behind bars, and noted that he was not the first technician to be called to the location recently.

Channel 1 television news reported Monday that an investigation determined that the center of the blast had not been in the apartment of Avraham and Galit Tufan, where the technician had carried out an inspection hours before the blast. Rather, the center of the blast was found to have been in the apartment next to the Tufans', where an elderly couple lived. The Tufans had smelled gas and called the gas company, who sent the technician. They later perished in the explosion, along with their 2-year-old baby. The elderly couple in the apartment next door survived the blast.

The judge stipulated, that in order to avoid any chance of obstruction of justice, the technician will be forbidden from coming near the blast site unless police instruct him to. In addition, he will not be allowed to speak to anyone from the gas company that employs him, for seven days.

The technician's lawyer, Attorney Yehuda Shoshan, told IDF Radio Tuesday that the accusations against his client are unfounded. The technician did his job properly, he said, and did not content himself with checking the gas in the apartment he had been called to. He did not leave until he was certain that there is no problem in the system, he added.

"What do people expect of a technician? Do they want him to check apartment after apartment in a block that is almost a kilometer long, with dozens of entrances? That is not reasonable,” he said.