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(Times of Israel) Suspect in rape, murder of 13-year-old girl remains silent in questioning

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Thursday, 29 November 2018

Suspect in rape, murder of 13-year-old girl remains silent in questioning

Court remands Eritrean national Tesfebarhan Tesfasion for a week, over Tel Aviv killing of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter

Eritrean national Tesfebarhan Tesfasion arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 29, 2018, Tesfasion is a suspect in the murder of 13-year old Sylvana Tsegai in south Tel Aviv earlier this week. (Flash90)
Eritrean national Tesfebarhan Tesfasion arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on November 29, 2018, Tesfasion is a suspect in the murder of 13-year old Sylvana Tsegai in south Tel Aviv earlier this week. (Flash90)
Police on Thursday searched the area near a Tel Aviv public park for evidence that could tie an Eritrean man to the murder and suspected rape of a 13-year-old girl that has shocked the country, as the suspect chose to remain silent during an hours-long interrogation.
Tesfebarhan Tesfasion was arrested Wednesday night, after a two-day manhunt. He had been on the run since the body of Sylvana Tsegai was found in her home in the city on Monday. He was reportedly her mother’s ex-boyfriend.
Police questioned Tesfasion for several hours overnight, but he remained silent and refused to provide his version of the events. Police sources quoted by Hadashot TV news said that if he does not confess, efforts would continue to discover forensic and other evidence that could tie him to the crime.

Tesfasion was brought on Thursday before a judge, who remanded him for a week. He will also undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand for trial.

During the hearing, Tesfasion’s lawyer accused police interrogators of collecting a sample of his saliva against his will.

Police officers were seen on Thursday morning searching garbage bins at HaKovshim Garden, where Tesfasion is believed to have hidden for at least one of his two days as a fugitive.

A member of the public recognized Tesfasion from photos published in media and on social networks and alerted police, which on Thursday published a recording of the phone call by the citizen.

Eritrean national Tesfebarhan Tesfasion during his arrest for the suspected murder of his ex-partner’s teenage daughter, November 28, 2018. (Courtesy)

The man, identified only by his first name — Yisrael — said a hood Tesfasion had been wearing despite relatively warm weather had sparked his initial suspicion.

“I think I’ve seen the guy near the Carmel Market, with a coat and a hood, walking around here,” Yisrael can be heard saying in the recording. “At the Carmel Market in the area of the public park. That’s it, I wanted to report that.”

A police officer, identified as Hussein, then asks him further questions about the suspect’s clothing and tells Yisrael to stay on the line. Yisrael also says during the call that Tesfasion “is where the homeless usually gather during the night, at the end of the market.”

When cops arrived at the location, near the market, in south Tel Aviv, Tesfasion tried to flee, but was quickly apprehended.

Surveillance video published by the Kan public broadcaster showed Tesfasion in a convenience store calmly buying goods moments before he was arrested. Aside from a hood, he seemed to make no effort to conceal his face.

Sources close to Tsegai’s family said Wednesday night that Sylvana and her mother had been planning to leave Israel, and that Tesfasion had objected to that plan, Ynet reported.

The killing of Tsegai and Yara Ayoub, 16, whose body was found in her Galilee hometown several hours earlier, has renewed calls for action to prevent violence against women.

Sylvana Tsegai, 13, taking a selfie at a Christmas party organized by the Kuchinate collective, in south Tel Aviv, on January 9, 2018. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

In an interview broadcast shortly before the announcement of Tesfasion’s capture, Tsegai’s mother, Malay Guawi, described her agony over the death of her daughter.

“I had one girl and now she is dead,” Guawi, also an Eritrean asylum seeker, told Hadashot in the interview, broadcast Wednesday evening. “I want my girl to come back now.”

She described Tesfasion as “not a good person.”

“I took him into my home and he made a mess. I did not know that he would do this to my girl.”

On Tuesday, Tesfasion’s father told the media his son was “crazy” and he did not care if the police killed him.

According to Hadashot, Tesfasion entered Israel in 2010 through the Egyptian border and is known to authorities for previous offenses. He was sentenced to one year in prison for drunk driving and forging a driving license.

He also previously escaped from a holding facility for African migrants and allegedly tried to obtain an extension for his permit to stay in the country by using a forged marriage license. Tens of thousands of African migrants entered Israel from Egypt in the last decade, and many now live in Tel Aviv.

Police and medical personnel outside the home of Sylvana Tsegai, after she was found dead on November 26, 2018. (Flash90)

Tsegai’s body is at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute awaiting an autopsy before it will reportedly be flown back to Eritrea for burial.

Initial results of the examination show that the girl was sexually assaulted and then strangled to death, Channel 10 news reported.

According to reports, Tsegai was known to welfare authorities as a victim of domestic violence before the killing. She reportedly called police on Saturday to complain about Tesfasion being in her home.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

Manhunt ends as Eritrean suspect in murder of 13-year-old girl is caught

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Manhunt ends as Eritrean suspect in murder of 13-year-old girl is caught





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