Criminal Gets 7 Years for Attack on Prison Officer

The Be'er Sheva District Court sentenced Yaniv Zaguri to seven years in prison yesterday for planting a grenade near the doorway of a prison intelligence officer's house.

"It seems there has been an escalation in the means criminals are using to achieve their goals," wrote Judges Sarah Dovrat, Yoram Celkovnik and Daphna Avnieli in their verdict.

Zaguri was convicted last month of placing a fragmentation grenade at the home of Emil Tzalah, an intelligence officer at Be'er Sheva's Ohalei Keidar Prison. According to the indictment, the goal was to warn Tzalah to stay away from a friend of Zaguri's who was in the jail.

While others were also involved in the attack, the judges determined that Zaguri was the ringleader. Therefore, the others received lighter sentences: six years in jail for Yossi Buhbut, five and a half years for Maor Elmakayis and four years for Mordechai Maman.

Buhbut was also sentenced to four and a half years in jail, plus a NIS 20,000 compensation payment, for throwing a grenade at the home of Artzi Halfon, who worked at the time for the local paper Yedioth Hanegev. The grenade killed Halfon's dog.

Despite all this, Zaguri was acquitted in November 2009 of heading an organized crime ring in the south, and the other four were acquitted of membership in it, due to doubts as to whether they actually constituted an organized ring.

That acquittal occurred despite a payment of over NIS 1 million to a state witness - the largest such payment ever made by the police's Southern District, police sources said.