The reporter Gadi Soknik has published a video of the driver responsible for last week's Highway 1 crash, Chaim Biton. The clip shows that he was involved in another accident between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv several months ago.
Biton had struck a private vehicle, without legitimate cause, and could be seen exchanging information with the driver. Egged was forced to compensate the driver to the sum of 15,000 shekels ($3,800 US) and allowed Biton to continue driving. In addition, it was reported that Egged received an evaluation on Biton which warned that he drives unsafely and presents a danger to the public.
Egged refused to comment on the recording, as well as to a request for the number of drivers that were involved in traffic accidents and then returned to work. The company claimed that such information would be part of the investigation into the lethal accident that occurred last Wednesday.
It should be noted that Biton was involved in an almost identical accident to the most recent one in 2013, on the same strip of the road and under similar circumstances. No one was killed, though 18 people were lightly injured.
Biton was released today for 21 days of house arrest. The judge ruled that he will spend the time under complete house arrest in his Jerusalem home, with his mother monitoring him 24 hours per day.
The judge further declared that Biton cannot leave the house except for court hearings or police investigations, which must be coordinated with the investigators. His driving license has been revoked until the end of the proceedings and he has been forbidden from leaving the country for the next six months. He also put aside 7,000 shekels ($1,800 US) and signed a personal bond for 10,000 shekels ($2,600 US).
Authorities are looking into the possibility that Biton tampered with the bus's tachograph immediately after the accident in order to obstruct the investigation. The tachograph records a vehicle's speed and distance, along with the driver's activity. Biton admitted that he removed the device from its place, and television cameras caught him speaking with the police investigator who told him, "Don't play games with me."
Police are expected to also investigate senior Egged officials on suspicion that they knew of his problematic driving.