Erez Efrati in court
Erez Efrati in court on May 2, 2010 Photo by Moti Kimche
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Erez Efrati, a former member of the security detail guarding the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, admitted in court yesterday that he had sexually assaulted a woman near the Tel Aviv Port in November, but claimed he was drunk at the time and not cognizant of his actions.

Efrati was charged with attempted aggravated sexual assault, and assault and battery, among other offenses.

According to his indictment, served in December, after his own bachelor's party at a club in the port on November 28, 2009, Efrati followed the complainant to her car and dragged her out before she had a chance to start the engine. He then pulled her to the nearby river bank and attempted to rape her before being stopped by a passerby. Efrati tried to claim that the victim was a friend. After the passerby tried to subdue him, Efrati jumped into the Yarkon River, but was eventually captured by police officers.

After yesterday's session in Tel Aviv District Court, Efrati's attorney, Keren Nahari, said that his friends had forced him to drink alcohol at the party, that the drinks themselves were doctored and this caused his behavior that night, and that he did not bear criminal responsibility for his actions.

The defense team, Keren and Benny Nahari, told the three-judge panel yesterday that tests conducted by a private investigator showed that the drinks Efrati consumed at the party were different in their composition than what he had ordered. The Naharis admitted, when questioned by the judges, that they did not know the exact effect of the doctored alcohol and that experts hired by the defense were still researching the subject. The lawyers maintained, however, that Efrati suffered from alcohol poisoning and hallucinations as a result of the drinks.

According to Israel's penal code, an individual is not criminally responsible for offenses committed as a result of involuntary or unintentional intoxication.

Efrati's attorneys will try to prove that their client drank as a result of pressure from his friends and that he could not have anticipated the effects of the drinks because they were different from what he had ordered.

"If you don't prove this, it will be as if he put himself into a state of intoxication [and thus responsible for his actions - O.E.]," Judge Chaled Kabub warned the defense team.

The prosecutor told the court that "the state is of the opinion that the defendant was in control prior to, during and after his actions, and it will prove this to the court. The state seeks to introduce witnesses whose testimony will prove Efrati was aware of and responsible for his actions - including the complainant and passersby who helped to subdue Efrati when he tried to flee the scene."