Dmitri Bogotich - Ilan Assayag - Jan. 3, 2011
Dmitri Bogotich arriving back in Israel on Jan. 3, 2011. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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An Israeli immigrant from Russia suspected of leading a neo-Nazi youth gang in Petah Tikva was arrested shortly after arriving in Israel yesterday on an extradition flight from Kyrgyzstan.

Dmitri Bogotich's alleged gang, known as Patrol 36, is suspected of assaulting the homeless, foreign workers and religious Jews.

Bogotich fled to Russia in 2007, after police first questioned him in connection to the case but before the gang's most vicious assaults were discovered.

A few weeks ago, Bogotich was arrested by Interpol immediately after arrival at the airport near the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The Israel Police was informed of the arrest and detectives were dispatched to accompany him back to Israel.

Bogotich was taken to Central District headquarters in Ramle for questioning directly from Ben-Gurion International Airport, his hands and legs in restraints.

Bogotich cooperated with investigators and confessed to some of the allegations against him. He said he was a member of the gang that was caught in Petah Tikva in 2007, but not its leader.

Yashar Yaakobi, his lawyer from the Public Defender's Office, also denied Bogotich was the gang leader.

"He's a young guy who is freaked out about his arrest," he said. "He claims he was young and bored and got caught up with the wrong people, and that there's no cult."

The suspect attempted to offer an apology while in the police interview room, telling investigators that all of the actions were committed out of boredom and that there was no genuine admiration for Hitler behind them.

"The Israel police will go anywhere in the world to capture criminals," said Central District commander Bentzi Sao, who was involved in the extradition operation. "Citizens have someone to rely on and criminals have something to fear," Sao said.

Eight members of the gang, between the ages of 17 and 20, were sent to prison for sentences ranging from one year to seven years, for the assaults. In one incident, members of the group assaulted a drug addict near Tel Aviv's Carmel Market and forced him to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness.

In another, they broke a beer bottle on the head of a foreign worker.

The gang filmed their assaults, as well as themselves giving a Nazi salute, posting the clips on YouTube and on Format 18, a neo-Nazi website.