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A Haifa court sentenced two men yesterday to 12 and nine years in prison for the negligent manslaughter of a 77-year-old woman they had robbed. The two men, both in their twenties, were also convicted of an aggravated robbery of another 86-year-old woman.

Vitaly Molotkov from Haifa, who was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for killing Tzila Sinn Pesia, also received a suspended sentence of two years. His accomplice, Sa'adia Bieniv from Kiryat Haim, received a similar suspended sentence.

In their sentence, the three judges determined that the defendants had taken advantage of their victims' weakness, and proceeded to harm them out of the assumption they would not be able to resist their actions.

The indictment against the two men said that in September 2005, they knocked Pesia to the ground after following her home with the intention of snatching her bag.

The fall caused Pesia to lapse into a coma, from which she would never emerge.

She died several weeks after the incident. The defendants made away with less than NIS 50.

The two men employed similar tactics against the 86-year-old woman, whom they robbed shortly before causing Pesia's death.

Molotkov snatched her purse while she was sitting on a public bench in a Haifa street, while Bieniv was acting as a lookout, alerting Molotkov to passersby who might notice the robbery.

Molotkov's defense attorney, Hannah Bulus, told Haaretz that his client will appeal the severity of the punishment.

"The maximum sentencing for negligent manslaughter is three years in prison," Bulus said.

"This man did not hit the lady, he pulled hard on the purse. He did not mean for her to die.

"This is not the same as other criminals who abuse elderly people. This woman's death was a result of negligence."