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A jailed crime boss was convicted yesterday of conspiracy to commit a crime in connection with a triple murder. The Nazareth Magistrate's Court found drug kingpin Ze'ev Rosenstein guilty of the conspiracy charges related to the murders, which took place on a Lake Kinneret beach over nine years ago.

In a plea bargain approved by the court, Rosenstein was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison, on top of the 12 years he is already serving for a separate conviction involving the trafficking of Ecstasy pills in the United States.

In the case which went before the court yesterday, Rosenstein had originally been charged with murder and two additional counts of manslaughter. According to the initial indictment, he ordered the murder of Rafi Weitzman, a rival underworld figure who himself had been accused of attempting to murder Rosenstein in the past.

Weitzman was shot to death on Tiberias' Shaldag beach in 2001, along with two people in his vicinity at the time, David Ben-Margi and Sharon Masawi. The indictment claimed the murder was ordered through Tiberias resident Eyal Sheetrit.

Another man, Guy Weberman, who is alleged to have been an intermediary party to the alleged murderer or murderers, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime yesterday. The court sentenced him to three years in jail, in addition to the nine he is currently serving.

The break in the triple murder came as a by-product of another case (known in some circles as the "Star of the North" case ) involving cocaine smuggling from Panama to Israel. A witness in that case, identified only as S., provided evidence that shed light on the circumstances of the 2001 murders at Shaldag beach, and implicated Rosenstein in ordering and financing Weitzman's murder.

The three people killed in the shooting - Ben-Margi of Tiberias, Weitzman of Beit Shemesh and Masawi of Tel Aviv - had all gone to the Blue Bar at the beach together. They left the bar and headed to a car in a nearby parking lot.

One of them had already entered the car when an unknown gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet shot all three of them at close range. Weitzman and Ben-Margi were pronounced dead at the scene. Masawi later died in the hospital.

The prosecution expressed satisfaction with the plea bargain reached with Rosenstein, in light of the problems a trial would have created in providing witness testimony of events that took place nearly a decade ago.