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Haifa District Court on Monday convicted Yair Batbabu of manslaughter in the killing two years ago of Arkadi Blobstein, a security guard at the Luna bar in Haifa.

The court sentenced Batbabu to 18 years imprisonment and two years suspended sentence, in addition to punitive damages of NIS 150,000 to be paid to Blobstein's estate.

The court accepted the plea bargain offered by Batbabu's attorney's, under which he would plead guilty to the lesser charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault and the original charge of premeditated murder was dropped. As part of his plea bargain, Batbabu agreed to testify against two additional defendants in the case, Aviad Gino and Roni Bronstein.

In February 2005, the 32-year-old Blobstein, who was working his first shift as a security guard at the club, refused entry to Bronstein and Gino. Shortly thereafter, the two returned with Batbabu, who drew a pistol and fired at the security guards, killing Blobstein.

Attorneys for Bronstein and Gino harshly criticized the plea bargain, arguing that the prosecution elected to broker a plea bargain with the "least credible" of the defendants.

Attorney Tami Alman stated that it was obvious from the beginning that Batbabu would be recruited as a state's witness against the other two defendants and therefore, it was essential to separate the trials of the three defendants - a suggestion that the prosecution rejected at the start of the trial.

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