Azzam Azzam suing Tefron for millions
Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druze textile worker from the town of Mughar who spent eight years in an Egyptian prison for allegedly spying for Israel, is suing his former employer Tefron for millions.
Via the law offices of Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co, Azzam claims the company ignored its responsibilities toward him and abandoned him "wounded on the battlefield."
Azzam is also suing personally Arie Wolfson and Sigi Rabinowicz, who were the controlling shareholders in Tefron at the time and held senior executive positions at the textile company. Another defendant is Micha Korman, who also held a senior executive position at Tefron.
Azzam has filed two suits against Tefron, one in the Tel Aviv District Court and the other in the Tel Aviv Labor Tribunal.
He demands, among other things, that the company compensate him for his legal costs in Egypt; loss of future income; his family's costs for visiting him in the Egyptian prison; medical expenses; and compensation for pain, suffering and anguish.
The minimum sum for a claim in the District Court is NIS 2.5 million. At the Labor Tribunal, Azzam is claiming more than NIS 5 million in owed wages, severance pay, redemption of vacation days, various social benefits, and more.
Azzam writes that Tefron hired him in 1989 and sent him to Egypt to help set up a plant there. In one of his trips on the job, in November 1996, he was arrested by the Egyptian security forces and tried on charges of spying for Israel. He was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Israel obtained his release in December 2004, after eight years in prison.
He also claims in his suit that Tefron ignored the risks of sending him to Egypt, and that it did not make sufficient effort to obtain his release. After he did get out of prison, the company refused to give him his due for that period, and even refused to compensate him for the damages he suffered as its agent in Egypt.
While Azzam was in Egypt, he goes on to claim, a feud erupted between Tefron and its Egyptian partners, who were highly influential in Cairo circles and connected to the president, Hosni Mubarak. He claims that the Egyptian partners threatened the defendants, but that he was not told of these threats. Azzam also claims that these threats were directly related to his arrest.
He also charges that once Tefron decided to send him to a foreign, unfriendly country, namely Egypt, it bore heightened responsibility for his welfare and safety.
During his incarceration, Azzam claims to have undergone severe abuse and to have lived in dreadful conditions. Since his return to Israel, he has had serious difficulty adjusting, as happens among prisoners of war, for instance, who need a great deal of help returning to life. Although he received severance pay of NIS 39,300 upon his return, the company refused to pay him the remainder of his benefits as an employee that would have accrued throughout his period of imprisonment in Egypt.
Tefron also threatened that if he persisted with his demands, it would reconsider its continued employment of his brother, Azzam claims.
At the Labor Tribunal, Azzam demands that the company pay him wages and social beenfits for the entire period period he was imprisoned in Egypt, during which time Tefron remained his sole employer, he claims.
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