Lee Zeitouni
Lee Zeitouni Courtesy of the Familiy

"We sent an important message to the world," Lee Zeitouni's family said Wednesday evening as they vacated the Paris court after hearing the sentence of the hit-and-run driver who killed Zeitouni in Tel Aviv, three years prior. 

Zeitouni was struck by a car while crossing the intersection of Weizmann and Pinchas in Tel Aviv in September 2011. Eric Robic and Claude Khayat, riding in the black SUV that hit Zeitouni, fled the scene quickly, without calling for help. 

Several hours after the accident, with their identities then unknown, they managed to escape from Israel to France along with their wives and children. 

Robic, who was determined as the driver of the vehicle, despite back-and-forth accusations between himself and Khayat, was sentenced to five years in prison. He was charged with homicide, failure to assist a person in danger and unlawful escape to avoid responsibility. He will begin his sentence immediately in France. 

Khayat, accused of not providing aid to a person in distress and unlawful escape, will serve 15 months in prison, but his jail time will begin at a later unknown time. 

Both Robic and Khayat were also ordered to pay tens of thousands of euros in compensation to the Zeitouni family. They will not be eligible for parole. 

Roy Peled, Zeutuni's partner led the struggle for prosecution of Robic and Khayat, whose quick return to France sparked public outrage in Israel. Because France has no extradition deal with Israel, they consented to hold the trial on their soil, only. 

"The sentence is very significant. It can be a very severe punishment here. The fact that there is no way to shorten or appeal the sentence demonstrates the justice system's belief in this," Peled stated to Channel 2 News, explaining his satisfaction with the verdict. 

"I think that for us - friends and family and supporters in both Israel and abroad, and the tens of thousands of civilians in Israel - we sent a very serious message here to Israel, France and the whole world," Peled continued. 

"There's not happy ending. She did not come back, but I think we made the most of the terrible situation. I do not think anyone or anything could have done better."

Lee Zeitouni's parents also responded to news of the sentence outside the courtroom. "We can only bless the way we worked together. Compared to what is happening in France, we still accomplished justice."

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