Fifth Israeli Charged With Running Cyprus Prostitution Ring

Tel Aviv court hears shocking details of violence, abuse toward women in brothel.

sharon shpurer
Sharon Shpurer
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sharon shpurer
Sharon Shpurer

A fifth Israeli was indicted Sunday on suspicion of operating a major prostitution ring in Cyprus noted for its cruelty to the women in their employ.

Early this month, David Digmi, considered the No. 1 pimp in Israeli history, was identified publicly as one of the ringleaders, and as a police informer and state's witness in the case.

At the beginning of last year, Rami Saban and three other members of the same ring were sentenced to between three and 18 years in prison.

Another alleged pimp, Guy Hassid, was not indicted at the time because he was at large, but his extradition from Turkey last week paved the way for his indictment yesterday in Tel Aviv District Court.

The charge sheet against Hassid, 30, of Ashkelon, alleges that he, Saban and the brothel's other operators forced the women to work seven days a week without breaks between clients, as well as during their menstrual periods.

They allegedly used various means to control and discipline the women, including violence and threats against them and their families.

The indictment specifies "one case, in April 2008, at the time when Hassid managed the brothel and supervised the work of the women, one of his subordinates believed that a woman who took a short break for hygienic reasons stalled for too long, so he shouted at her and slapped her face.

"The young woman, obviously in distress, picked up a knife and slashed both her wrists," the indictment continues, "after which [Hassid] took her to a private doctor, who stitched her wounds.

"The next day, despite her pain, Saban ordered the woman, with Hassid's approval, to arrive for work at the brothel, dressed in long sleeves," according to the charge sheet.

The brother was allegedly set up between 2007 and 2009. Saban, through his contacts, located "women who would be willing to come to Cyprus and work as prostitutes," and Hassid, Saban and other members of the ring paid up to $7,500 per woman to bring them over from their home countries, the indictment states.

The brothel operators charged clients $200 for sex with a prostitute. The women were fined if they misbehaved, and those who requested to leave Cyprus and return home before the end of the agreed-upon six-month period were fined, and did not receive full payment for their work, the indictment alleged.

Hassid, Saban and the three other men already convicted invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish and operate the Cyprus brothel, luring dozens of women to leave their country of birth and work as prostitutes there.

The identity of Digmi, reputed to be Israel's most prolific pimp ever, was revealed after a long battle by Haaretz to get the court to ease the gag order issued after he agreed to become a police informer and state's witness. The agreement was unusual - 24 serious cases against him were closed as part of the deal, including such alleged crimes as attempted rape, trafficking in women, pimping, extortion, drug possession and many more offenses committed over the course of more than a decade.

Rami Saban and another man convicted for trafficking. The courts have forbidden publication of Digmi's picture. Credit: Nir Kafri and Nimrod Glickman

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