Rana Avraham, a homeless man who was assaulted earlier this month by former Labor Party activist Shmuel Levi, died of his wounds Wednesday night at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
Avraham, 63, suffered head injuries, inner cranial bleeding, and damage to his ears after the assault on August 7. He had since been hospitalized and unconscious. On August 12, Levi was charged in a Tel Aviv court with aggravated manslaughter. Prosecutors are now contemplating whether to alter the indictment and charge Levi on more serious counts.
Levi made headlines due to his role as Ehud Barak's grassroots campaign manager during the successful 1999 run for prime minister. Levi, who was once linked to alleged financial irregularities in Barak's campaign, told police in late June that he could provide incriminating evidence implicating Barak. Levi claimed the Labor Party chairman was fully aware that bags of cash, in some cases totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, were transferred to party activists in the field. Police, however, say they have yet to find credible evidence to support the allegation.
According to the indictment in the Avraham case, Levi is alleged to have noticed him in the street. He then approached him and began kicking him. When Levi saw Avraham on his feet a short time later, he once again accosted him and proceeded to beat him, knocking him to the pavement. Levi allegedly kicked Avraham in the head repeatedly, before stepping on his head. Civilian bystanders yelled for him to stop, and police subsequently arrived at the scene and arrested him.
Levi told police that he hit Avraham because he witnessed him improperly make contact with a minor. A Haaretz investigation concluded however that Avraham has no prior record of pedophilia.
Police investigators offered Levi a deal to turn state's witness against Barak in the straw companies affair, but Levi refused, instead preferring to exercise his right to remain silent. Levi is currently demanding the Labor Party pay him NIS 14 million he claims he is owed for services he provided.
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