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Even before the arraignment began yesterday for the five police officers who are suspected of boobytrapping the car of a reputed Nahariya criminal, former cop Y. announced to the media, "Our blood is being let. We've been convicted and judged even before the trial has begun."

He said that he and his fellow suspects have been abandoned by the police.

"We are considered innocent and ask to be treated accordingly," he said. "We are being forced to sell our homes and property in order to afford representation in this show trial. We love the police force and are proud to serve in it," he added.

Y. admitted that he and the other suspects do fear that someone could injure them or their families but said they trust that the police surveillance of their homes and families will keep them safe.

The explosives were planted under the car of Michael Mor, the alleged head of an organized crime syndicate in northern Israel, and on a windowsill of the home of his nephew, Rafi Ben Shalom, as an intimidation tactic.

The men were ordered to remain in custody until further notice. The court also ordered an extension of the gag order on the names of the suspects.

Prior to the arraignment, Ben Shalom asked the judge to allow him to attend the court session, but the judge rejected the request.

Attorney Moshe Sherman, who represents one of the suspects, argued that the detention centers in Israel are not suitable for holding police officers; for their own protection, the officers should be held in isolation, but the conditions in the isolation facilities, Sherman claimed, are disgraceful.

Dozens of the officers' relatives were seen at the arraignment in and around the courtroom, reciting Psalms or waving to their loved ones.

Many police and intelligence officers also came, in order to express solidarity with their accused colleagues.

Many of the relatives, especially the wives of the accused officers, expressed fear that the exposure of the names of the suspects in mock death notices that appeared in a local newspaper on Tuesday would endanger them.

"There's no doubt that the exposure added to our worries," said the wife of one of the suspects yesterday.

"For some reason, we're are not under protection and we're at home all the time; I would have expected the police to take the initiative and make sure that we receive protection; otherwise, we really won't feel safe," she added.

The wife of another accused officer noted that since the affair came to light, she has been staying with friends and relatives.

"I don't stay at home and there's no doubt that the [fake death] announcement only adds to my fears," she said yesterday in response to the threats. "Even in the courtroom, there were people who are known to be soldiers of Michael Mor; we really feel exposed in this respect."

The Northern District Police said yesterday that the suspects' families are under police surveillance and said the publication of the fictitious death announcement would have no effect on their level of endangerment or their protection.