2 Convicted in Bat Yam Beach Slaying of Mother

Margarita Lautin was killed in botched mob hit in 2008

Two hit men who accidentally killed a woman in a botched mob assassination attempt on a Bat Yam beach two years ago were convicted in a plea bargain at the Tel Aviv District Court yesterday.

Ronen Ben-Adi was convicted after admitting to the slaying of Margarita Lautin and conspiring to commit a crime. Shimon Sabah was convicted of conspiring to commit a crime and of being an accessory after the fact.

Both the prosecution and defense have asked the court to sentence Ben-Adi to life imprisonment and Sabah to seven years behind bars. The two may also be ordered to pay Lautin's two underage children NIS 350,000 in compensation. The sentencing will take place on May 17.

Police believe Ben-Adi and Sabah were aiming for suspected mobsters Rami Atira and Motti Hasin, who were on the beach at the time, when they shot Lautin. They escaped unhurt, but Lautin was hit by a stray bullet. A third suspect was never apprehended.

Prosecutor Hadas Fuhrer-Gafni told the court yesterday that the case dealt with a murder that "shocked the entire country" in 2008.

"An innocent woman was killed for no crime while spending time on the beach with her husband and children," she said. "Recently we came across more cases in which innocent people were murdered and we don't always succeed in apprehending the perpetrators ... This time, the two accused have been caught. Unfortunately, a third murderer also on the beach at the time was not found."

Fuhrer-Gafni defended the plea bargain, saying it was "both justified and proper."

"Each of the accused admitted and took responsibility for the part he played, and most importantly, we have the admission of the person who directly caused the death of the deceased," she said. "The fact that a man stands up and admits to murder, in court, as it happened just a few minutes ago, does not often happen in this courtroom."

"I think justice has been done," Fuhrer-Gafni said.

After the hearing, Lautin's husband Alex said his feelings regarding the plea bargain were mixed. "On the one hand, we have someone who admits to the killing, on the other hand, this doesn't make it any easier," he said. "We can't just move on, we have many ongoing struggles with the Israeli authorities that won't acknowledge our rights. Instead of coping with the criminals, we'll have to deal with the establishment."

Since the murder, Lautin has been demanding the National Insurance Institute grant his family the same status as survivors of a terrorist attack, to no avail.

Margarita Lautin's mother, Anna Merzlyakov, said yesterday, "We respect the plea bargain, we always did, but from the very beginning we didn't want they money. It's not about money, it's about punishing and sending the person who did the killing to jail."

Merzlyakov thanked Fuhrer-Gafni for her work on the case.