Legal Wheels Grind on Shabbat So Cops Can Nab Fugitive Judge Upon His Wee-hours Arrival

An arrest warrant was issued on Saturday so it would be in force when former judge Dan Cohen arrived in Europe, where he stopped in route to Israel.

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An attorney and former judge wanted on charges of bribery and breach of trust was arrested upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport yesterday morning after being extradited by Peru.

The arrest warrant for Dan Cohen was issued on Saturday so it would be in force when Cohen arrived in Europe, where he had stopped en route to Israel. The appendix to the warrant, which was signed at 2:30 P.M. Saturday afternoon, indicates the Peruvians had finalized the extradition process with Israeli officials only 48 hours earlier.

The prosecution said it had no choice but to summon Tel Aviv District Court Judge Gilad Neuthal on Saturday to deal with the arrest warrant, stating, “The operational timetable of the authorities in Peru is not in the hands of the Israeli authorities. We were updated regarding Mr. Cohen’s arrest only on Friday evening.”

“When it emerged that en route to Israel he would be landing in Europe during Shabbat, there was an operational and legal need to make sure there was an arrest warrant in effect that could be shown to that country if necessary,” the prosecution said.

Cohen, who had been fighting extradition, was arrested in Lima on Friday by undercover agents on a busy street in the city’s swanky Miraflores quarter. He had been under surveillance since the Peruvian government decided in a secret vote to approve his extradition.

On Friday, police brought Cohen before a judge who approved the arrest and extradition based on Interpol documentation. Cohen was brought immediately to Lima’s international airport and put aboard a flight for Tel Aviv at 8 P.M.

The warrant was likely extradited to avoid pressure on the Peruvian government to delay the move, as Cohen was known to have good relations with senior Peruvian businessmen. These figures are said to have thwarted earlier efforts to extradite Cohen by pressuring former President Alan Garcia.

But the current president, Ollanta Humala, could not be pressured. A few weeks ago he launched a “national program to fight crime and corruption.” As part of the program, Prime Minister Juan Jimenez Mayor told the daily El Peruano that “we will no longer allow in undesirable foreigners involved in crimes in their countries.”

Cohen served as a district court judge between 1978 and 1981, leaving the bench after he was brought up for disciplinary action, at which point he returned to practicing law.

Foreign police, presumably those who escorted Dan Cohen to Israel, are seen at the arrival terminal of Ben Gurion International Airport, March 17, 2013.Credit: Mori Milrod

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