Dudu Topaz's brother slams media for coverage of his arrest, suicide
Disgraced TV star killed himself in jail, while on trial for plotting attacks on media execs.
Brother of disgraced TV star Dudu Topaz, who killed himself in prison Thursday morning, slammed the Israeli media on Thursday, telling reporters they were "once again seeking out negativity", as they tried to interview him hours after his brother's death.
Topaz was jailed at Nitzan Prison while facing charges of plotting attacks on senior media executives. He hanged himself in the shower next to his cell.
Mickey Goldenberg's comments came as he was arriving at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to identify his brother's body.
When asked to comment on his brother's death, Goldenberg told reporters "you don't really share our mourning", before imploring them to "head home and look at yourselves in the mirror and maybe you will see you have something good inside yourselves too".
Earlier Thursday, Topaz's lawyer Zion Amir blamed the authorities for his client's death, and said that Topaz alerted him to his severe mental distress the day before his death.
"He pleaded me to come as soon as possible, we had a two hour meeting; we sat and talked. He told me 'Zion, I'm not going to make it,'" Zion Amir said following the announcement of Topaz's death.
"I thought it was the daily hardships he was experiencing," said Amir. "I've heard him say that many times before."
Amir faulted police, courts and the prison service for Topaz's suicide, insisting that he had warned them of the former TV star's frail mental state.
"I told them his life was in danger. I begged the judges from day one. They thought he would flee the country, that he would hurt more people. I tired to fight and keep him alive," Amir told Israel Radio.
Amir said that given his emotional condition, Topaz should have been held in a mental health facility, rather than prison. He "should have been held in a psychiatric institution, or a hospital, or bailed out and guarded," said Amir.
The attorney also blamed his client's suicide on the intensive media coverage of the arrest and court hearings.
"A massive and horrible media campaign was conducted," Amir said. "The media was used to annihilate, to maul. These methods kill people... these things are meant to be dealt with in court."
Amir also paid tribute to Topaz. "The audience's love was important to him," he said. "Over the past two months, he kept repeating: 'I am a good man. I want them to know this. I am someone who does good deeds.'"
Prison sources say Topaz hanged himself with the cord of an electric kettle in the shower stall next to his cell at around 6 A.M. A warden found him some 10 minutes later and immediately called rescue services.
Prison Service officials initially reported that the suicide attempt had left him in moderate to serious condition. But Topaz was pronounced dead following an hour of resuscitation efforts.
At the time of his suicide, Topaz was being held in a high security cell for prisoners suspected of posing a danger to themselves. Two security cameras had been installed his cell, but there were none in the shower where he hanged himself.
This was not Topaz's first attempt to kill himself since detained. In early June, just days after his arrest, he injected himself with an overdose of the insulin he was prescribed for diabetes.
He was hospitalized then in Holon's Wolfson Medical Center in stable condition after a warden found him lying on the floor of his cell with several insulin syringes beside him.
Once one of Israel's top television personalities, Topaz was arrested in late May in connection with attacks on TV producer Shira Margalit, the CEO of the Channel 2 television franchise Keshet, Avi Nir, in November 2008 and actors' agent Boaz Ben-Zion some six months ago.
Topaz had feuded with the three recently, over decisions made to remove his programs from the screen.
He confessed in June to orchestrating a series of violent attacks on TV executives over the past year, after he reportedly broke down under police questioning.
The 62-year-old Topaz was a household name in Israel for his popular variety shows and a decades-long showbiz career. At the pinnacle of his career, he was nicknamed the "king of ratings."
TV presenter Avri Gilad, one of the officials Topaz had allegedly planned to attack, said that, above all, "what pains me most in this affair are Topaz's children who have nothing to do with this."
While a senior police official has said that the warden did everything in their power to prevent Topaz's death, Prison Services said that it will investigate the circumstances of the suicide.