Adwan Yahiya Farhan, convicted murderer of Dana Bennett and two others
Adwan Yahiya Farhan, convicted murderer of Dana Bennett and two others Photo by Gail Elyaho
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Tomer Neuberg
Mothers of murder victims Dana Bennett and Sylvia Molrova Photo by Tomer Neuberg

The Nazareth District Court on Wednesday sentenced Yahiya Adwan Farhan, who was convicted earlier in the day of committing three murders, including that of Israeli-American teen Dana Bennett, to three consecutive life sentences.

The court had earlier convicted Farhan earlier Wednesday for the murders of Bennett, Aharon Simchov and Czech citizen Sylvia Molrova.

In their ruling, the justices said that Farhan exhibits sadistic tendencies and must be distanced from society.

Farhan was also convicted of two counts of kidnapping for the purposes of murder, rape, and kidnapping. The judges Tawfiq Katili, Danny Tsarafti and Asher Kola wrote in their judgment that the accused is manipulative, cold-blooded and sophisticated.

The court essentially rejected Farhan's lawyers request that the it find Farhan only partially responsible for the murders because of his mental state.

The lawyers added that if their client does in fact receive three life sentences, they will request that he be able to serve them concurrently, and not consecutively. They argued that Farhan should not receive consecutive terms, in light of the relatively minor punishment received by Y., his partner in two of the murders.

Vicky Bennett, Dana's mother, said after the judgment: "Justice was done, I never thought it would turn out any differently, it is no consolation but it's a relief."

Bennett said that the time leading up to the judgment was very stressful. "The killer belongs under lock and key so he can't hurt anyone else. It ends here. I appreciate the work of the police and the prosecutors," she said.

Dana Bennett's remains were found in May of 2009; the teenager disappeared on July 31, 2003 after a shift at a restaurant on the Tiberias boardwalk.

Bennett was born in Chicago in 1985. Her parents divorced when she was five years old and her mother returned to Tiberias. Bennett was raised by her father in Los Angeles. Later, however, her father sent her to high school at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi in Israel.

Vitali Ashurov, brother of Aharon Simchov, said, "Nothing can return Aharon, but today the courts gave some closure. From the beginning I claim that Aharon was murdered, and today the true was revealed. It's a shame that it dragged on for five and a half years, the justice system should have awakened earlier."

Y., Farhan's partner in the murders of Bennett and Molrova, was already convicted in the past year of relatively light charges, after more serious charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Instead of charges of murdering Dana Bennett and abetting the murder of Molrova, Y. was charged and convicted of only two counts of aiding the killing and was sentenced to 14 years in jail.

Farhan, who confessed to the three murders and even re-enacted them, retracted his earlier confession over the course of the trial and presented a different version of events, according to which Y. and her friends allegedly killed Bennett and Molrova, as part of their Satanic cult activities.

"Y. is a bloodthirsty woman," he claimed over the course of the trial. "She, with the help of five of her friends, wanted to murder young women. They would perform ceremonies and drink the blood of cats."

According to Farhan, she told him that she was raped in a forest near Golani Junction, after two young women lured her there and aided her rapist, and in the wake of that event decided to cause people harm. Farhan claimed that it was she who showed him the location of the murder.

Farhan also claimed that during the first two days of his incarceration he was beaten and humiliated, did not receive any food and water, and did not take his prescribed psychoactive drugs. He claimed that the police informed him of details about the murder.

"I told them what they wanted to hear," he said over the course of the trial. "I would have admitted to 20 acts of murder." According to Farhan, he also did not murder the prisoner Aharon Simchov in his prison cell at the Tiberias police station, contrary to the indictments brought against him. "I was sleeping when it happened," he said.

Prior to that, Y. testified against her former partner and described in detail the murders of Bennett and Molrova. "When I convinced her to enter the car, I knew that would be the end of her," she said in court. Y. delivered a harsh and detailed testimony of how she helped Farhan murder Bennett and Molrova.

She even described her relationship with Farhan, which she characterized as "obsessive." He said that Farhan forbade her from getting to know other people and distanced her from all of her friends, and demanded to know who she was in contact with and where she was at all times.

"I wouldn't call it love, he bought me everything and I was blinded. He promised me that he would get me out of a criminal case I had been involved in. He would talk to the neighbors and they would report back to him about my actions."

Y. bore witness to the murders of Molrova and Bennett, but in the case of the third murder, of Aharon Simchov, in his prison cell in the Tiberias police station, there were no witnesses, and Farhan retracted his confession to that murder, as well.