Text size

State prosecutors yesterday asked the Tel Aviv District Court to sentence convicted underworld kingpin Asi Abutbul to at least 25 years in prison. Today they will ask the court to transfer money Abutbul received from selling two BMW vehicles to the state, as well as another NIS 200,000 he deposited for bond money after a hearing in Jerusalem.

Prosecutors Nurit Kornhauser, Tzachi Uziel and Keren Bar-Menachem asked the court to sentence Abutbul - convicted of extortion, arson and fraud - to a penalty similar to those imposed on the leaders of the Shurafi and Abu Shehadeh crime families. In February, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced the heads of a crime ring involved in drug trafficking to prison terms ranging between 25 and 27 years.

Abutbul's attorney, Nir Plesser, said the comparison is illegitimate, and asked for a sentence of between seven and eight years for his client.

Judges Bracha Ofir-Tom, Yeshayahu Schneller and David Rosen said, "There was no alternative to the conclusion that we are dealing with a crime family." The judges characterized Abutbul's actions as "unqualified criminal activity, as if committed in a no-man's-land."

Abutbul was convicted under a law for combating organized crime, which holds that heading a criminal organization, even without physically participating in its activities, in itself constitutes an offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. The law stipulates that sentences for violations committed within the framework of organized crime will be punishable with double the terms meted out under regular criminal law.