A simple walk with his dog four years ago is not something Vadim Antonevich will soon forget. Antonevich, a prize-winning documentary film maker, is now serving 25 days in jail for walking his dog without a leash.
The story began when Antonevich was stopped on Jerusalem's Emek Refaim street by a municipal inspector. After Antonevich protested the fine, the inspector charged him on the spot with obstructing the work of a municipal inspector, and fined him NIS 1,000. The matter was taken up by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court for municipal matters, where in an expedited judgment at which he was not present, Judge Yael Yitav increased the fine and ordered him to pay NIS 2,580 to the city or serve no less than 25 days in jail.
It should be noted that the law leaves to the judge's discretion the number of days in jail he or she can order in lieu of a fine.
When Antonevich found out that the fine had ballooned in court, he began a correspondence with the court and the city, requesting the fine be reduced. Meanwhile, the fine, with interest, rose to NIS 4,500. Eventually, following repeated requests by Antonevich to reduce the fine, the court finally cut it to NIS 3,000.
Two days before Antonevich was arrested, he submitted a renewed request to the court to hear his case again, arguing that the fine or jail sentence were disproportionate to the infraction he had been charged with. Nevertheless, he was summoned to the police station, where he was told he had to pay the whole fine immediately. When he refused, saying that the matter was still before the court, he was arrested on the spot and was taken, cuffed hand and foot, to the Abu Kabir lock-up. Ten days later, he was taken to Ma'asiyahu prison to serve out his sentence.
Antonevich is costing the tax-payer about NIS 230 for every day he spends in jail. By the time he finishes out his sentence, his walk with his dog will have cost the state some NIS 6,000.
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