Cameras in Topaz's Cell Were Not Recording

Hundreds of family members, colleagues and fans attended the funeral of entertainer Dudu Topaz on Friday. Topaz strangled himself in prison Thursday, where he was awaiting trial for orchestrating assaults on media executives.

Topaz was laid to rest in the artists' section of the Yarkon Cemetery.

Speaking at the funeral, Topaz's son Daniel said he would never justify his father's actions, but would not be ashamed to say Topaz was his father.

"He was much more than a dad, he was the best dad you could have. He loved Israel and he loved Zionism, he made the country feel good and he dedicated his life to doing good for others," he said.

Topaz's brother, Miki Goldenberg, said he would find it difficult getting used to life without him.

"I'm almost 60 and I don't recall a single moment of my life you weren't there," he said.

"They didn't let me come close to you, and they didn't let me save you. I'm sorry I didn't make it, Dudu. The wardens aren't guilty, even though they are already being attacked.

"We might find out that the world inside the prison was the better world, and the world outside the prison needs to be improved. I'm sending you to dad, for him to hug you," Goldenberg said.

Some of the mourners claimed there had been excessive media coverage of Topaz's investigation and arrest.

Entertainer Nancy Brandes, one of the few celebrities to attend the funeral, said, "With just a bit more sensitivity, it could have ended very differently. I was disappointed for the children. He should have lived, for them."

Meanwhile, the Prison Service revealed that the CCTV cameras in Topaz's cell were not attached to a recording device, and were used only for live surveillance.

There were no cameras in the shower, where Topaz committed suicide by tying the cord from an electric kettle around his neck, and hanging himself from a meter-high faucet.

Therefore, the external investigative committee set up to examine the circumstances of Topaz's suicide will be working without footage of the entertainer's last minutes.

Israel Prison Service sources also said that it was unclear whether anyone was monitoring the cameras at the time of the suicide, since several other wardens were already in Topaz's cell.

"This monitoring is only to enable immediate rescues, not for documentation. No one suspects a crime might be committed in the cells. The cameras are there only to watch the prisoners, and to prevent them from carrying out certain acts. That's it," a prison service source told Haaretz.

The Prison Service said yesterday that the cameras could not be connected to recording devices.

Currently, there are 1,021 prisoners on suicide watch. In 2008, 754 prisoners tried to take their own lives, and 9 succeeded.

The Prison Service investigative committee is expected to meet with the commander of the service, Lieutenant General Benny Kaniak. Kaniak has not commented on Topaz's suicide, and has refused to give interviews.

The investigative committee is expected to submit its conclusions late next week.

"We don't expect the committee to uncover some amazing flaws," a source in the Prison Service said over the weekend. "Topaz was meticulously guarded, and the wardens apparently were doing their jobs when he committed suicide. A psychiatrist said several times there was no immediate danger to Topaz's life."

The Prison Service has been looking into changing the conditions of prisoners on suicide watch, by establishing "clean cells." The cells would be padded, and would not contain anything that could help prisoners kill themselves, such as electrical cables. Faucets would be embedded into the walls.

Prison sources said they believed his death would speed up the project.