OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities on Wednesday were investigating the apparent suicide death of a policeman which stirred a security scare during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s departure ceremony.
A police spokesman confirmed an investigation had been launched into the death of Raed Ranen, 32, who seemingly shot himself while standing guard during the ceremony at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Authorities believe Ranen committed suicide, a version rejected by the man’s family.
After the shot that killed Ranen rang out, bodyguards rushed Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to their plane, while security officials whisked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres into their armored cars.
Once it became evident there was no security risk, Olmert and Peres boarded the plane to bid farewell to Sarkozy, who had spent three days in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The policeman’s brother Nayef made it clear he didn’t believe in the suicide theory.
"He had no reason to take his own life. It may have been an accident or he was unwittingly killed by another Israeli guard," the Ynet news website quoted him as saying.
His father Assad said his son was in good spirits when he left home to join his unit on Tuesday.
"He had a family, a house, friends and plans for the future, he had no reason to commit suicide," he said.
The family hired a lawyer to ensure there is a "complete and detailed" investigation and to gain access to security video footage from the airport.
The shot was fired just as Olmert kissed the French first lady on the cheeks and President Shimon Peres bid farewell to his counterpart.
The first lady, a model-turned-singer clad in a black pantsuit, rushed up the steps of the plane’s gangway escorted by a bodyguard.
The French president kept his composure, calmly walking up the steps and briefly raising his hand in a farewell gesture to his hosts.
Police said Ranen hailed from the northern Israeli town of Beit Dajan and was a member of the Druze community.
(AFP via Alarabiya)