Text size

Celebrity entertainer Dudu Topaz will undergo a medical evaluation today to determine whether he can be released from hospital and returned to jail following a botched suicide attempt.

Topaz, the one-time host of Israel's most popular television show, is suspected of hiring thugs to carry out attacks on two television executives and a theatrical agent.

Meanwhile, police alleged yesterday that in addition to commissioning the assaults, the 62-year-old Topaz also unleashed a campaign of terror against his victims that included death threats and anonymous calls.

In one incident, they said, Topaz sent a letter to Channel 2 television executive Avi Nir threatening to kill him unless he paid a ransom.

Police also now suspect that in the days prior to his apprehension, Topaz commissioned a string of additional attacks on celebrities, including television hosts Avri Gilad, Erez Tal and Zvika Hadar, that had not yet been carried out.

All three were questioned yesterday in light of the new findings.

"Who are we to try to understand the depth of his pain and mental instability?" Gilad said yesterday as he entered the police station. "I am so far from Topaz, so unconnected to him. I may have said 'hi' to him politely when I saw him in the hall once, but I've never been in a feud with him."

Topaz was taken to the hospital early Tuesday morning after attempting to commit suicide in his cell by injecting five times the amount of insulin prescribed for his diabetes.

But physicians who treated him at the hospital yesterday said he suffered only mild damage in the failed attempt to end his life.

If deemed physically fit, he will return to jail, where he will be kept under special 24-hour surveillance for fear of another suicide attempt.

In the 1990s, Topaz hosted a hugely popular variety show on Channel 2. He still holds the all-time viewer ratings record for a show in which he promised to bring an alien to the studio.

The news that he was suspected of being behind a series of attacks on television executives that had baffled the police shocked the country when it first emerged last week. Although he initially denied the allegations, he broke down under interrogation and admitted commissioning the attacks to avenge his rejection by the television executives.