Army Chief's Former Bodyguard Convicted of Assault in Plea Deal

A former bodyguard of IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi was convicted yesterday of assault and attempted sodomy, and could face up to 16 years in prison. Erez Efrati, 30, was also accused of attempted rape after admitting to forcing himself upon a woman near the Tel Aviv Port following his bachelor party in November.

Lawyers reached a plea agreement overnight, just hours before the conviction, but the deal did not stipulate the severity of the sentence to be imposed, leaving that decision to the discretion of Tel Aviv District Court. As part of the agreement, charges were dropped of attempted aggravated rape, threats, assault with intent to commit a crime and resisting arrest. Prosecutor Ruth Erez said that in addition to the prison sentence, she would seek financial compensation for her client.

In a rare occurrence, the plaintiff and her family appeared in court. However, Efrati's fiance - who until now had been present at every hearing - was noticeably absent. Friends of the couple said they remain together.

Yesterday it emerged that Efrati had asked the court to overturn his classification as a detainee under supervision. An affirmative response from the court would allow the suspect conjugal visits.

Efrati's attorney, Keren Nahari, said after his conviction that "from the beginning, Efrati has taken responsibility for the offense. We maintain that there was a situation of intoxication, and that he was not aware of his actions. The agreement was meant to satisfy both sides. It's a fair agreement, and I hope the court ultimately accepts the fact of his intoxicated state."