Dmitri Bogotich was convinced he would be free forever. The ease with which he managed to slip out of Israel, and the law enforcement authorities' complete indifference to his escape and his new life, allowed the man described as "the first neo-Nazi soldier in Israel" to feel safe in his new home in the heart of Moscow.
Bogotich felt so secure that he focused on his law studies there, as if he was not the defendant in one of the most severe indictments ever filed in Israel.
Yesterday, however, the Justice Ministry confirmed that Bogotich had been arrested by Interpol in Kyrgyzstan, at the airport near that nation's capital.
When I met him in March of 2008 in Moscow, he was careful but also confident that the authorities in Russia would not extradite him to Israel, even if he was arrested. When he is finally extradited to Israel, Bogotich will be tried like the other members of his neo-Nazi gang - Patrol 36 - which terrorized the streets of Tel Aviv from 2006 to 2007.
The gang would go out a little after midnight and find a victim to abuse. Drunk with power and alcohol, they would kick, punch and break things - documenting everything on cell-phone cameras. They selected their victims on the basis of neo-Nazi propaganda: dark-skinned people, foreign workers, drug addicts, homosexuals and anyone else who was in their way.
Eight members of the gang were arrested in 2007; Bogotich, who is suspected of being the gang leader, was the only one who disappeared. By day he served in the Israel Defense Forces as a guard, and by night, according to the indictment, he would lynch people based on their ethnicity.
On July 18, 2007, police investigators went to the apartment he shared with his mother in Tel Aviv and brought him in for questioning. By the next day, he had already fled the country.
When I met with him eight months later, he said he did not have to work very hard to evade the authorities. The day after his questioning, he claimed, he managed to lower his military profile and was immediately released from the army. He then got on a flight to Athens.
While the Israeli authorities began to consider issuing a warrant to prevent him from leaving the country, Bogotich had already been in Moscow for some time. According to Russian law, the authorities do not extradite Russian citizens who have committed crimes in other countries. Truth be told, Israel did not even seek his extradition.
No one involved in the case in Israel knew where Bogotich was, and in practice no one bothered to look for him. When the investigative television show "Uvda" ("Fact" ) decided to try a little harder than the police, we managed to locate him fairly quickly in Moscow - free and happy.
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